DENVER — A Denver shelter for women and LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness will close next month, and many of its residents are worried they could end up unhoused once again.
Individuals living at the Rodeway Inn off Federal and 47th Avenue delivered a petition to Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, demanding housing or bridge housing options before the shelter closes.
The Rodeway Inn was opened in the summer of 2020, leased by the city to offer “non-congregate shelter” during the pandemic. Since then, it has functioned as a safe space for its residents, offering refuge not only from COVID-19 but also from persecution. Many of its 76 residents report having experienced hate and targeted violence based on their identities.
“I got jumped by six grown men for walking down the street in the dress,” said resident Aster Clarkson. “Do you know what that’s like? And simply because I was transgender.”
“For me, [Rodeway] was safety—the first place I could call home,” added fellow resident Laura Lindquist. “I spent seven or eight years on the street. I lost everything. They helped me get my ID, my birth certificate, my social security card. It’s the first place that nothing’s gotten stolen.”
Denver7 spoke to four residents, each with different paths in life that have brought them to Rodeway and into a community they’ve come to love. That, they said, is why the news of its upcoming closure has been devastating.
Denver’s Department of Housing Stability said 67 percent of Rodeway residents had found other housing options as of June 26th, and the office is committed to helping transition the remaining individuals into safe housing and shelter options before Rodeway closes. It is also working with the Denver Housing Authority, which purchased the property, to repurpose it long-term with the possibility of permanent supportive housing. The department has $23 million to purchase similar properties this year to operate similar shelters.
“We recognize that this transition is a difficult one, and we’re working with our partners to find the best possible outcomes for all of our guests,” said communications director Derek Woodbury.
Yet for the Rodeway residents who have not found their next home, its impending closure has them mourning the loss of a community they depend on and worried about a return to life on the streets.
“We’re just trying to let them know that we’re here,” said resident Angela Brown. “And, we have voices. We matter. Our lives matter.”
The Rodeway Inn shelter will close August 24, 2023, ahead of the end of the city’s lease on the property on August 31, 2023, the Department of Housing Stability said.