Denver, CO

Denver Will Turn Hotel Into a Shelter for the Homeless

Synthia Stark

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In Denver, Colorado, there are some plans to buy an unused hotel to house some of the homeless. In fact, homelessness in Denver is rapidly increasing, so the plan is to spend $2 million in federal money.

For example, according to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative’s 2020 survey, about 4171 people in Denver are currently experiencing homelessness, which is an all-time high compared to the past. Out of those 4171 people, at least half are in need of emergency shelter beds.

In fact, most people attributed current world events as the reason why the number of homeless people is increasing, alongside other events like low economic prospects for downtown businesses. The hardest-hit seems to be those in urban areas — and the cost of housing is no longer affordable for most families.

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If we take a look at the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative website once again, we see the following:

“The report, the first of its kind in the state, shows homelessness across multiple sources, including for the first time the data system the region has been working to implement widely with homeless service and housing providers.”

The news surrounding this homeless shelter was recently announced by Mayor Michael Hancock and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette on Thursday morning.

The new shelter in question will be located south of Interstate 70 and west of Interstate 225. It will be near some convenience stores, gas stations, and some restaurants. There are also a few dispensaries, hotels, warehouses, and office buildings that are also nearby.

It is also within walking distance of RTD’s Peoria Station, and there is one RTD bus stop nearby. A rough map will be shown below:

It will cost well over $7.8 million to purchase the 94-room hotel. From there, it will become an initial shelter for up to 200 people, and there may even be a possibility for people to live with pets in there, and some possibility to even share rooms with a partner.

The hotel may be ready by the end of this year (2021), but the city is still trying to figure out who will run this specific shelter on a daily basis. After 2 years, the shelter will become a “supportive housing” unit for 150 people. 

Those 150 people will have access to behavioral and mental health services, which directly address some of the root problems and stressors surrounding some peoples’ situations. If anything, maybe getting health support will allow others to eventually leave the system and empower others as well.

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Anyway, this ambitious initiative puts Denver in a unique spot to really support the homeless, alongside similar initiatives in Los Angeles, California, and Austin, Texas. Allowing the government to buy off unused motels, hotels, and apartment buildings makes sense since no one is using them anyway. 

It is still a steep situation, all things considered. 

The Denver Chief Housing Officer is Britta Fisher. Britta had reported that money is part of her community request to the House Appropriations Committee.

“Because of the urgent need for housing … I focused my community funding projects on funding for housing remedies.”

If the House Appropriations Committee doesn’t approve the request, then the city will move forward instead. In fact, the city is prepared for it, especially as more and more people are struggling.

This current move reflects the current strategy against homelessness — where other unused buildings, like hotels, will be used to house the homeless. In fact, there are already over 800 rooms from six hotels that are scattered throughout Denver. City officials have already committed $17 million to the program and that initiative will continue until the end of June 2021.

Harking back to this specific hotel-turned-homeless shelter, Mayor Hancock had reportedly said:

“This is the kind of partnership we need in the city of Denver.”

It could make sense and there may be more plans to buy more hotels for this purpose. If anything, the people of Denver, Colorado deserve the best for their people. If your neighbor, friend, family, or other acquaintance is struggling, they may be eligible. If not, let’s just hope that every single one of us is able to improve our financial situations.

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