DENVER — The Denver City Council approved a pair of multi-million dollar contracts on Monday for two groups that will run micro-communities across the city.
Micro-communities are a key part of Mayor Mike Johnston’s goal of getting 1,000 people off the streets by the end of this year.
The mayor’s team selected Colorado Village Collaborative to run the 60-unit micro-community near Evans and Santa Fe in southwest Denver.
"We're really excited about moving forward with the site and being able to launch,” said Dede de Percin, executive director of Colorado Village Collaborative.
Colorado Village Collaborative currently operates two tiny home villages and three Safe Outdoor Spaces.
“The micro-communities look like a sort of a mashup between our tiny home village and our Safe Outdoor Spaces,” said de Percin. “And so, you know, we've been doing this since 2017. We run five sites right now. I think we're well positioned to make sure the site is successful."
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The Gathering Place will run a 44-unit micro-community near 14th and Elati, which will provide transitional housing for adult women, transgender and non-binary people. The nonprofit currently runs a day shelter for those same groups.
"Those are among the folks who are most at risk when they're living unsheltered,” said Megan Devenport, CEO and president of The Gathering Place.
Devenport said those groups are also disproportionately impacted by violence.
“That's especially compounded when they don't have a safe place to be,” said Devenport.
A third site near I-70 and Peoria will be operated by the nonprofit Bayaud Enterprises. There will be 54 units on the site. City council approved a contract with Bayaud Enterprises last month.
Residents of the micro-communities will come from encampments the city will close. The city set a goal of getting 75% of those residents into long-term housing but is leaving the programming up to the site operators.
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Micro-community residents will have 24/7 access to staff and will receive three meals a day.
"They asked us to be ready by December 15th and we will be ready by December 15th,” said de Percin.
Cole Chandler, the mayor's senior advisor on homelessness, said the city plans to open just the three micro-communities for now.
"We're still considering additional sites for 2024, but in terms of the 2023 focus on micro-communities, those three that are under construction are what we are working on right now," said Chandler.
The contracts with the three micro-community site operators total about $6 million. The city also plans to spend $4.2 million on community buildings that will be part of each site.
Chandler and Johnston both told Denver7 they are confident they will be able to reach the mayor's goal of providing transitional housing to 1,000 people by the end of the year. In addition to the micro-communities, the city is also moving people into converted hotel shelters and rental units.
As of Monday, the city's dashboard shows 311 people have been moved indoors.