Denver announces 3 new homeless facilities, marking latest in homeless services sales-tax spending

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DENVER (KDVR) – Denver has announced plans to open three new facilities for the city’s unhoused, marking the latest initiatives funded in part by the 2020 voter-approved sales tax to pay for homeless services.

The developments are the latest for the city’s efforts around homelessness, which were refocused over the last year to help people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The numbers speak volumes,” said Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability. “Our city shelter network now accommodates upwards to 2,200 people per night – which is a 60% increase over pre-pandemic capacity.”

Voters in November 2020 approved the Homelessness Resolution Fund, through which the city expects to build 1,800 new units of additional housing with support services and another 500-600 units of shelter or housing, according to a city report.

Among the new facilities to open in the coming weeks will be a new 46-bed crisis stabilization center for people experiencing “mental health turmoil,” city leaders announced on Thursday.

A new shelter to house 450 people will open later this summer at an 82,000-square-foot site on East 48th Avenue, near the northeast corner of Interstate 70 and Colorado Boulevard.

Plans are also in the works to buy a hotel near Interstate 70 and Peoria Street and convert it first into a shelter, then ultimately, into supportive housing, for more than 240 people a year. The city expects it to be operational by the end of the year.

About 850 people without permanent housing are living in hotels contracted by the city, both for people especially medically vulnerable to COVID-19 and “to meet capacity needs from de-densifying congregate shelters,” a spokesperson for the Denver Department of Housing Stability told FOX31.

The department said it will continue to offer those rooms for “as long as resources allow,” with a focus on rehousing people once the money runs out.

“Further, as the virus subsides and herd immunity is reached, we expect there may be more capacity reintroduced to existing facilities,” a department spokesperson said. “We are working closely with our partners to ensure we are able to meet the need, even as the types of shelter needed may evolve through the pandemic.”

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has been hosting vaccination clinics for the city’s unhoused. Executive director John Parvensky said Thursday that the organization had administered 2,500 vaccines, or more than 50% of the estimated 4,000 people living in the streets.

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