NewsLocal News


Additional homeless Safe Outdoor Space to open at Denver DHS parking lot

3815 Steele St, Denver DHS
Posted at 11:55 AM, Nov 09, 2021

DENVER — The Colorado Village Collaborative, which works to bridge the gap between living on the streets and in stable housing, announced its Safe Outdoor Space program will expand to include its first city-owned property location in Denver.

According to Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC), "a coalition of supportive neighborhood and local business leaders" is ready to welcome the program to the Clayton neighborhood. In partnership with the City and County of Denver, the CVC will set it up in the parking lot of the East Office of the Denver County Department of Human Services building at 3815 Steele St. It will stay open Dec. 14, 2021 through Nov. 30, 2022.

The Safe Outdoor Space program provides shelter for people who need temporary or emergency housing in Denver. The 15,000-square-foot space will offer a 24-hour secure shelter for up to 50 people, who are all screened and selected by local services agencies, CVC said. Residents will have access to shelter, cots, hygiene needs, electricity, food and supportive services to help them find permanent housing.

Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, said this site marks the first time city property is being used for Safe Outdoor Space.

“We are glad to help support Colorado Village Collaborative and help grow this model that has provided residents another path from our streets to stability in Denver," she said.

This site will replace the current site at Park Hill United Methodist Church that has been open since June and is scheduled to close by the end of the year. Many of the 40 residents there will move to the DHS location, which has room for 50 people, CVC said.

CVC Executive Director Cole Chandler expressed his gratitude to the city for the partnership at DHS ahead of winter.

"Today is a day to celebrate forward progress for the health, dignity and belonging of our unhoused neighbors,” he said.

The CVC, which was founded in 2017, has launched four housing projects, including two Safe Outdoor Spaces and two tiny home villages that have provided more than 20,000 safe nights for people who do not have a place to stay. In addition to the Safe Open Space at Park Hill, CVC also manages one at Regis University, which recently extended its lease agreement through March 2022. Another 50-person location will start running at Denver Health on Nov. 16 and will stay open through Oct. 31, 2022, according to CVC.

There's been some opposition along the way each time a new site is announced, however, as not all neighbors have been open to these solutions to homelessness.

Davida Gonzales lives right next to the Denver Health site on West 8th Avenue and Elati Street that's opening Nov. 16. In October, she told Denver7 she was concerned for her safety because of the site's close proximity.

"It's literally, maybe, 12 feet from my front door," she said. "I worked with the homeless for all my career at different food banks, so I know what they're going through. But when it's at your front door, literally at my front door, it's heartbreaking for me."

An online community information meeting on the Safe Outdoor Space in Clayton is scheduled for Nov. 17 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Denver Michael Hancock's 2022 budget, which addressed homelessness, was approved by city council on Monday evening. In it, he proposed $190 million from the general fund, dedicated funds and ARPA, plus an additional $39 million from the voter-approved RISE Denver bond package, to continue investments in affordable housing and resolutions to homelessness.