Denver, CO

Opinion: Transgender homeless micro community in Denver a good idea

David Heitz
Photo byKyleonUnsplash

The Denver City Council will consider Monday awarding a $1.5 million contract to The Gathering Place to operate a homeless micro-community for women, transgender, and non-binary people.

“By offering low-barrier access to a broad range of basic necessities and wrap-around care options, The Gathering Place guides women, transgender and non-binary individuals, and children living in poverty from a place of crisis and instability to one of stability and security,” the organization explains on its website. “While we refer to those we serve as ‘members,’ no fees are ever charged for programs or services.”

Rodeway shut down in June

In June, Denver shut down the Rodeway Inn, 4765 Federal, as a homeless hotel serving transgender people. That left no shelter in Denver dedicated to transgender people.

“The Denver Housing Authority, which purchased the property for future redevelopment under a partnership with the city, is considering options for repurposing the site and reinvesting those funds into high quality, permanent supportive housing,” said Derek Woodbury, communications director for the city’s Department of Housing Stability, or HOST.

Features of the micro community

The micro community planned for 1375 N. Elati Street will include 44 tiny homes. The contract includes:

· 24/7 site operations to ensure compliance with building codes, health regulations, and safety issues.

· Communal spaces should be cleaned at least twice per week.

· Providers are expected to maintain a minimum ratio of one staff member on site per 40 clients.

· Client case management and navigation services will be conducted including residential intakes, coordination of referrals for any mental and physical healthcare needs, benefit acquisition, employment, and housing navigation.

· Case management and supportive services delivered through a housing-focused, trauma-informed, person-centered, and harm reduction approach.

· Maintain the infrastructure and amenities, pay utilities, provide scheduled and general repairs and maintenance, such as trash removal, exterior litter cleanup, pest control and snow removal (both inside the fenced area and from entries).

· Minor repairs to plugged toilets and leaky faucets.

· All necessary emergency maintenance services costing less than $500.

· Collaboration with city representatives to notify and address any critical incidents on site.

· Training for all staff will include de-escalation training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

· Vaccinated and non-aggressive pets will be allowed at the facility.

· Site operator will intake clients in cooperation with HOST’s encampment resolution and outreach team process.

· Provide resources for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals to ensure all guests have access to services in their language of choice.

Homeless shelters not LGBT friendly

As a gay person who experienced homelessness in 2019, I can report that the shelters are not LGBT-friendly. It is much safer to remain in the closet at homeless shelters. I experienced discrimination at the 48th Avenue shelter. I had left my cot to use the restroom and when I came back a man had taken my bed. He told the supervisor on duty it was his. He also referred to me as a derogatory name for a gay person. Long story short, I was asked to leave the shelter and not return. I had nowhere to go and remained on the streets for several months. A similar incident occurred at Salvation Army Crossroads homeless shelter.

I’m glad that the mayor’s office has created a micro community for transgender people. Everyone deserves to feel safe.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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