DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston held another town hall Tuesday, hearing residents react to his plan for housing sites for the homeless.
Last month, Johnston’s office released 11 potential locations for his proposed communities for unhoused people. Many who live near these proposed sites are sharing concerns.
“The more units we add, the more blocks we close off, the more parts of the city no longer have encampments in them,” Johnston said.
The mayor hopes to house 1,000 unhoused individuals by the end of 2023, shutting down encampments in the process.
“If you look at just the 911 calls we’ve gotten to encampments this past year, over the last 12 months, that is more than 8,000 911 calls,” Johnston said. “The most unsafe setting there is.”
What neighbors say about homeless plan
The safety of neighbors located near the potential locations became a concern echoed in a number of different community questions.
“Who thought it was a good idea to have mentally ill people, 200 to 400 of them, at the entrance to a residential community with older people, kids, senior care centers, churches, schools, bus stops for kids, for Denver and for Cherry Creek?” resident Larry Cornell said about the proposed location on Yale Street.
“We have limited access in and out right there, only to street service, about 110 properties getting in and out of there,” Jamie Curtin told the mayor when speaking about the Yale Street proposed location, adding, “So our concern is bringing in high density 200 people into that location. It’s just adding to an already problematic situation.”
Could vacant office buildings become housing?
When asked about accountability at the housing locations, Johnston said the city’s laws will be in effect.
“In any of these housing locations, all of the same laws still apply,” Johnston said. “So you cannot use drugs, you cannot commit acts of violence, you cannot assault people.”
When asked about considering vacant office buildings downtown instead of some of the proposed spots, Johnston said it was an idea the city is looking into. He brought up costs to run office buildings versus other locations.
The next town hall is Thursday, Sept. 7, at Joe Shoemaker School at 6 p.m.