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Proposed homeless shelter site sparking controversy among neighbors in SE Denver

Hundreds gathered for a public forum Saturday, expressing concerns and support for the site
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Posted at 3:58 PM, Dec 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 19:41:15-05

DENVER — There are a lot of emotions being stirred up over a proposed homeless shelter in southeast Denver, and those emotions got heated during a public forum led by Mayor Mike Johnston at Hamilton Middle School on Saturday.

Hundreds of community members filled the room to its capacity, expressing both concerns and support toward the proposed homeless shelter site that could soon be opening up at the Embassy Suites on E. Hampden Avenue, in Council District 4.

Among the attendees was Marge, a neighbor in the area who chose not to share her last name. She was there to hear several people voice their concerns.

"A lot of anger, a lot of fear, a good deal of support also," she said.

Marge said she supports the site.

"We all know people who are one paycheck away from homelessness, and I want to be able to help them," she said.

On the other hand, Rike Palese, who also lives in the area, said he is against it the proposal.

"I think there's the big concern about safety," Palese said. " I think there's also a concern about how the facility is going to be operated and managed."

Denver7 also spoke with Mayor Mike Johnston following the meeting. He stayed and answered several questions outside the school after the public forum was finished.

Proposed homeless shelter site sparking controversy among neighbors in SE Denver

"I thought we got good feedback, had a good conversation," Johnston said. "Sometimes people with concerns are the ones that are the loudest — that's totally fair. That's why we're here to hear them out."

Some also claimed that Mayor Johnston and the Denver city council waited to announce the location until there was little time to react. In response, Johnston said it was announced around three weeks ago.

"When we're acquiring a hotel works differently than a micro-community," Johnston explained. "Often with a hotel seller, we're not able to release ... to talk about the deal until we've entered into an initial agreement. We have to wait and then start the public process. That's what we did here."

The proposed site will be discussed during Monday's city council meeting at 5:30 p.m.

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