DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) is taking a new approach to its ongoing effort to set up sanctioned homeless camps in Denver.
The non-profit group expected to have its first Safer Outdoor Spaces site up and running by last July, but several proposed sites have been met with resistance from community members and political leaders.
“We have moved forward with sites. We had moved forward with the site—the Blair-Caldwell Library—for example. But then the mayor changed his mind, once he heard from some community members,” Hannah Fageeh said, Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) manager with CVC.
SOS would be regulated encampments, that would accommodate about 50 tents in an area that is approximately 10,000 square feet.
CVC decided to take a new approach, in introducing the community to the concept—holding an open house to show the public what the site sites would look like.
The model site, which was set up behind Beyond Church in Denver, was a smaller scale of what CVC is hoping to establish somewhere in Denver.
“I think the SOS initiative is the only alternative right now that exists in the city to ease the problem we have with this illegal camping that we have,” Gerald Horner, who lives in the Curtis Park Five Points area said.
The event especially drew in neighbors from the Five Points area, who have seen a sizable uptick in unsanctioned camps in the last year.
“The reality is that we have people camping in our neighborhoods now and we have to find a way to do it better,” John Hayden, who lives in Five Points said.
“I think it’s important that the city place these sites throughout the city, so it’s not just one community being asked to take on the burden. It should be a resource across the city,” he added.
The SOS camps would provide on-site medical resources, along with running water and bathrooms.
“My expectations were blown away by the shower truck,” Hayden said. “The laundry/shower/bathroom truck that they put together—called showers for all—is really cool. It says to me that the people who are using it are being respected.”
CVC has looked at over 90 sites.
They tell FOX31 it’s important to get the first one set up ahead of winter, but believe setting up these open houses is a crucial step in getting community approval.
“We noticed a lot of misconceptions about homelessness were driving community members away from this project,” said Fageeh. “We really felt like compassion and everything was there. It was just the lack of education of what this space would actually look like.”
Find more information from the CVC here.