NewsLocal News


Aurora to vote on purchase of 'work-first' navigational campus to address homelessness

While Denver embraces a “housing-first” approach, Aurora prioritizes a “work-first” model to tackle the crisis.
aurora navigational campus.png
Posted at 5:56 AM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 07:56:59-05

AURORA, Colo. — The homelessness crisis has taken center stage in Denver, but it doesn’t stop there. On Monday, neighboring Aurora will vote on its own approach to resolving homelessness that would open a regional navigation campus with resources under one roof.

They will decide whether to spend $26.5 million on the Crowne Plaza hotel off of Interstate 70 and Chambers Road to serve as the campus.

While the city of Denver embraces a “housing-first” approach, the city of Aurora prioritizes a “work-first” model.

“It’s more of a tough-love approach. But I think it certainly fits the culture of the city,” said Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman.

Aurora to vote on purchase of 'work-first' navigational campus to address homelessness

While Denver operates under the premise that people are entitled to housing, Coffman said Aurora would take a similar approach to what one Colorado Springs shelter has taken: expectations over entitlement.

Coffman explained things like working part-time and participating in drug-free programs could earn you a better room and food. It would consist of three tiers. The first part, Coffman said, would be a congregate shelter. The second tier would provide encouragement to the first, where people would participate in addiction recovery and working part-time. The third tier would consist of individuals working full-time in transitional housing, while still in need of some services.

Coffman said he thinks the debate Monday will come down to whether council will want to renovate the Crowne Plaza or build from the ground up with nearly $40 million in funding.

For many, the city's migrant population is a major point of discussion.

“New controversy is let’s say they say, ‘OK, we’re only going to put money into this if we can really designate who we allow and who we accept into that space.' That could be a deal breaker,” said Amanda Blaurock, executive director of the Village Exchange in Aurora.

If the campus is approved, it could open as early as 2025.

“Denver and Aurora will be going in two very different directions, and we'll see what works and what doesn't work,” said Coffman.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.