Denver homelessness czar Cole Chandler said during the Mayor-Council meeting on Tuesday that Denver may shelter the homeless in hotel ballrooms during cold snaps this winter.
The topic came up when the mayor’s office explained it does not plan to use city recreation centers for emergency weather homeless shelters this year. Instead, they’re considering hotel ballrooms, Chandler said.
City Council member Paul Kashmann said he is hearing from the community that there is no clear policy on cold weather sheltering this year. “Good question, we’ll get you updated,” Mayor Mike Johnston responded.
Hotel reopens this week to fanfare
Chandler did not say which hotel ballrooms the city is considering for cold-weather homeless shelter sites. But many readers suggested in the online comments of articles that when people experiencing homelessness stayed at Aloft Hotel downtown during the pandemic, they caused extreme damage.
The city spent more than $100,000 to clean the hotel after people experiencing homelessness moved out. The pandemic-era accommodations meant hotel owners raked in earnings for full houses during a time when they otherwise would have had almost no customers at all.
According to HospitalityNet.org, Aloft re-opened this week with a multi-million renovation. Rooms have new headboards, mattresses, and linens, as well as new 55-inch mounted televisions.
Neighbors complain of drug use outside hotel
Last year, neighbors of Aloft complained of open-air drug use outside the hotel. Several Upper Downtown Neighborhood Association members told the Denver City Council that homeless people staying in Aloft openly used drugs, harassed passersby, and produced trash and feces that littered the streets.
The city had a contract with Aloft, 800 15th St., to place people experiencing homelessness at risk of contracting COVID in the hotel. But neighbors of the hotel said residents of Aloft scared away the convention goers who stopped coming to the city.
Aloft sparkles anew
But now, guests of Aloft never would believe the city housed the homeless in such a swanky venue. “The lobby has been redesigned with a dark gray base, complemented by black and white wallpaper, and brought to life with pops of yellow, dark magenta, and purple found throughout the furniture and throw pillows,” according to HospitalityNet.org. “The ottomans feature vintage graphic novel prints. This color palette follows the sightline throughout the hotel's public spaces, including the WXYZ bar, Re:mix lounge, Re:charge fitness center, and Re:fuel by Aloft market pantry. New 55-inch televisions have been installed above the bar, and all social spaces feature energizing lighting.”