The town of Denver is getting ready for what its leaders describe as a brand new strategy to homelessness.
“We have now a disaster on the streets,” mentioned Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech at a gathering Wednesday. “We made a variety of guarantees throughout the (Initiative) 300 marketing campaign about what we had been going to do higher, and I believe we should again these up with assets.”
Denver voters lately rejected Initiative 300, which might have granted new rights for individuals to take shelter in public areas. The marketing campaign in opposition to the measure targeted on the concept that the town might “do higher.”
The town is making about $10.7 million out there for shelters to open new daytime companies and make shelters extra accessible. Six teams have expressed curiosity within the growth effort, in keeping with Chris Conner, govt director of Denver’s Highway Dwelling.
“We’re difficult suppliers: How will we create shelters which can be 24/7?” Conner mentioned.
As a substitute of scrambling for beds, individuals might be assigned beds for longer intervals. As a substitute of waking up at daybreak, they might be allowed to remain throughout the day and retailer belongings on the shelters. And the shelter system might loosen its strict schedules, making it simpler for working individuals to get in at off-peak hours. Extra particulars in regards to the revamp are anticipated within the months forward.
The town additionally will rearrange its administration of homelessness packages as a part of a brand new housing division. Beforehand introduced by Mayor Michael Hancock, it’s anticipated to launch in January 2020 beneath Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher. The town auditor has described the present system as “fragmented and understaffed.”
However the adjustments come in opposition to a worrying backdrop: There are strategies the Salvation Military’s massive Crossroads shelter on Brighton Boulevard might shut.
“They could shut down the Salvation Military shelter. The lack of which means we choose the remainder of that up,” mentioned Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega. The shelter has suffered from overcrowding and required costly quality-of-life fixes. The charity has floated plans to rebuild the shelter, however even that plan might require closing the shelter for a while. Representatives didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Wednesday.
Homelessness has remained regular over the previous few years, with a 2018 survey discovering about 3,400 individuals residing with out everlasting housing in Denver. Unsheltered homelessness — individuals residing on the streets — makes up a few fifth of the full.