DENVER (KDVR) — The recent cleanup of the homeless encampment near the governor’s mansion was handled under Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s “House 1000” program. An encampment cleanup at 16th and Sherman was not.
Dozens of people in the first cleanup were bused to a shelter, while folks at 16th Avenue and Sherman Street did not get the same services.
Johnston faced criticism from some folks who said he broke a promise to house people after the encampment sweeps, one of which will happen next week.
FOX31 confronted Johnston on Thursday night about why this is happening.
FOX31: Mayor Johnston, just a quick comment on the encampment being swept up yesterday? Some people were a little upset those people weren’t rehoused.
Johnston: This is why we were working so hard to bring on units, as right now we have a lot more people in encampments than we have opportunities for housing, so this is what these meetings are about right now. We got to be able to find enough sites to bring on enough units so we can let every person that’s in an encampment get access to housing, because we know we got to get a lot more units to do that.
Mayor: Sweeps without shelter ‘heartbreaking for us’
FOX31 spoke with Johnston outside one of the dozens of town hall meetings on homelessness, Thursday night in the Park Hill neighborhood. Johnston is going neighborhood by neighborhood to explain his plan to house a thousand people by the end of the year.
The city told FOX31 that the cleanup at an encampment at 16th and Sherman on Wednesday was handled separately from that program. The people there did not get the same “wraparound” services as those bused to a shelter from an encampment near the governor’s mansion last week.
“Every time we have to do that, it is really frustrating and heartbreaking for us, because we know what we want to do is do what we did two weeks ago, which is walk into an encampment and say, ‘We can close this encampment and get you into housing,'” Johnston told FOX31.
The city said it moved 83 people off the streets at Eighth Avenue and Logan Street and directly into converted hotel units. According to the city’s website, 119 people have been housed since the mayor’s program launched in July.
The number is far behind his end-of-year goal. FOX31 asked him about it.
“A lot of the process is back-ended. We’re doing a lot of the community outreach right now … it takes time to get permits and get construction done and get land acquired,” Johnston said.
Johnston also answered to the fate of people living at an encampment near 50th Avenue and Dahlia Street, which is scheduled to be swept next week.
Johnston said because of the issue of resources, they too will likely not be housed following that sweep.