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Denver facility that serves families, veterans experiencing homelessness to expand

The Volunteers of America Colorado Family Motel on West Colfax will be torn down, and a new, bigger building will take its place.
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Posted at 9:30 PM, Oct 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-24 23:31:01-04

DENVER— The Volunteers of America Colorado Family Motel, which serves families and veterans experiencing homelessness, will soon expand.

Denver City Council approved the $17.7 million project during Monday’s city council meeting.

The existing building on West Colfax will be torn down, and a new, bigger building will take its place. The five-story shelter will be able to hold up to 60 families and will be called the Volunteers of America Theodora Family Hotel.

“Sixty families any given night. We could have 150 to 175 people in that facility, where today we can't have that many safely,” said Dave Schunk, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Colorado.

Schunk said money for the project will come from general obligation bonds and grant funding.

According to the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative's 2023 Point in Time Count, 2,101 families are experiencing homelessness in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties, as well as the city of Aurora.

"A large portion of people experiencing homelessness in our city are in family compositions,” said Megan Yonke with the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST). "As of today, there were 175 families in our shelter system and several more on the waiting list."

Volunteers of America (VOA) said it's so important to get to families early before things get worse.

“If we can keep a family together despite going through the challenges of being homeless, the odds of success, the odds of that family unit coming out of homelessness are higher than an individual or if the family was split up,” said Schunk.

The shelter will act as temporary housing until a family finds permanent housing. VOA said a typical stay is 90 days, but families can stay as long as it takes.

Wraparound services will still be provided, but in a better space for families to interact with one another.

"Through community space, a cafeteria, all the places where humans congregate and where good things happen,” said Schunk.

VOA said it'll work with the City of Denver to figure out who will live in the expanded shelter, evaluating families with the greatest need.

“Keeping those families intact, safe and in a stable position,” said Schunk. “They’re going to help each other, and we see a strong amount of success."

Families who lived in the current facility moved into another space earlier this month, according to VOA. The building is scheduled to be torn down, and the new facility will break ground in November, with the project set to be complete in early 2025.

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