New complex housing the homeless in Denver

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 20:00:33-05

Arresting the homeless in the Denver area is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The city spent more than $750,000 dollars enforcing laws against homeless in 2014, like camping in public, according to a new study by the University of Denver.

And according to that report, between Denver and five other major Colorado cities, $5 million was spent between 2010 and 2014. The costs add up because homeless people cannot pay fines when they are arrested.

One solution is easier said than done. Find the homeless places to live. But in Denver it is happening. Public and private money put together add up to new apartments for more than two dozen homeless people.

One of those future residents is Henry Rocha. 

Two years ago, Rocha says he never sang. He was quiet, ashamed and alone.

"I was in a stairwell, right off of Colfax Avenue,” he said.

Rocha says it was a series of unfortunate events --  the loss of a loved one and alcohol addiction that cost him everything.

“I had a life before I became homeless. I worked at a job for 25 years. I graduated from college,” he said.

Today, he is singing a different tune.

“I'm absolutely floored,” he said.

Rocha is one of 103 families and individuals, moving into Renaissance at North Colorado Station. It’s a brand new complex for low income families, homeless veterans and those living on Denver streets.

John Parvensky is the president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. He says the only way to end the cycle of homelessness is with permanent, supportive housing projects.

“As rents keep going up in our community, we need to build additional buildings like this so we need to subsidize people so they can live in the other apartments that are being built,” Parvensky said.