DENVER — The City of Denver has purchased or leased over half a dozen large properties to meet the mayor’s goal of housing the homeless.
The city got over 1,000 people off the streets and into housing between July and December of last year, according to Mayor Mike Johnston.
He credits that in part to acquiring over 1,200 units of housing since his administration began in July.
“The number of people that needed services was going to require us to be aggressive about bringing on units that was I think one of the biggest challenges about why the city has not succeeded in the past,” Mayor Johnston told Denver7.
Critics said those numbers are misleading. Not all of those counted met the metric of being sheltered for 14 days or more.
Denver purchased a lot of real estate to meet these goals, including the Best Western for nearly $26 million in the Central Park neighborhood, the Stay Inn for $9 million in the Montbello neighborhood and the Embassy Suites for $21 million in south Denver.
“It's better to buy than it is to rent if you can do that we'd love like to own these assets where we can,” Johnston said.
Other properties are being leased or leased to buy.
The Double Tree by Hilton in Central Park is being leased for $83,000 per month or $277 per unit per month.
The Radisson in Globeville is on a one year lease for a total of $10,381,000. With 220 rooms, that lease costs taxpayers $3,932 per unit. That cost is equivalent to a luxury apartment and does not include wrap around services.
The city has approved these contracts using city funding, bonds, federal funding and financing.
“There's an incredible amount of complexity in terms of logistics, whether it's financing, whether it's acquiring, whether it's rehabbing or changing for populations, you know, one of our hotel sites became a family based site and so we want to make changes to add childcare on site and a playground,” Johnston said.
In 2024, Johnston wants to get another 1,000 people off the streets with the goal of getting more people wrap around services.
“If you go through downtown Denver, now there isn’t anyone camping outdoors anymore,” Johnston said.
It’s true large encampments have been cleared in downtown Denver, but there are still some unhoused sleeping outdoors.