DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston has released specific information on how the city proposes to fund efforts to house 1,000 homeless people by the end of the year.

He emphasized that none of the city’s critical services would get cut, but that’s not appeasing some people who live near the proposed sites and still have a lot of questions about the plan.

Johnston said the priority is to help people leave encampments and transition into more stable housing.

“The plan is fully paid for. We have a path to success on that plan. We can deliver success on that plan without cutting critical city services,” Johnston said.

Denver homeless plan: How much would it cost?

He said the total cost would be $48.6 million. Of that:

  • $18. 9 million would be used to purchase and operate Best Western.
  • $5.4 million would be used for leases and operations at additional hotels.
  • $19.6 million would go toward establishing micro-communities.
  • $4 million would be used to lease apartment units.
  • $750,000 would be used for encampment response.

The money would come from the existing portions of the city’s budget that focus on housing issues and homelessness, as well as federal dollars.

The mayor said the use of hotels and micro-communities filled with tiny and pallet homes would be safer for the entire community.

“If you look at the safety risks of the places that are micro-communities, like the ones we are describing: In the last calendar year, all of 2022 combined, we had a micro-community that had a total of three service calls to 911. Another micro-community had 14 in all of 2022,” Johnston said.

Tents line a downtown Denver sidewalk
Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s administration recently cleared out this homeless encampment along Logan Street near 17th Avenue after a shooting nearby. (KDVR)

Neighbors concerned with homeless camps

Still, there has been pushback.

Some people who live near one of the proposed sites at 5500 East Yale Avenue, near southbound Interstate 25, have a lot of questions. Some say they are concerned about increased traffic where there are already too many crashes.

They told FOX31 that encampments have created problems in this small neighborhood for some time when it comes to petty crimes. Alec Baker said the neighborhood does support an initiative to help those in need, but the people who live here are on edge.

“We’ve been dealing with some of the neighborhood consequences of the housing crisis in a way where, forgive me, but we don’t necessarily trust the city is going to follow through with its initiatives and look after our specific safety,” Baker said.

Baker met with a representative of the mayor’s office just hours after Johnston presented the budget on Tuesday.

“The more we dig into it, the more questions come up. And ultimately, it feels as though the selection process was slightly rushed,” Baker said.

Meanwhile, the mayor said some parts of his proposed funding for the housing plan must still be approved by the council.