DENVER (KDVR) — The concept is simple: providing housing to people experiencing homelessness will make other issues they face easier to address.

This is the model the Colorado Village Collaborative has been using for two years now, after launching its first Safe Outdoor Space in the summer of 2020. Now, 2022 may be its most successful year yet. According to a study from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, up to 40% of Denver’s homeless population lives outdoors, and the model aims to help connect them with resources.

Each space is staffed 24 hours per day, with outreach and case management providers to connect up to 60 people at each site with resources from addiction treatment to healthcare and food services.

While the spaces have been moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, including the latest move from Regis to the Barnum neighborhood, funding approved by Denver City Council earlier this year will help the program to improve operations.

In 2021, 242 people were served at the locations including 47 who were transitioned into stable housing, according to the Colorado Village Collaborative. That represents roughly 1 in 5 people experiencing homelessness transitioning to a better outcome.

For 2022, Denver projects to serve 370 people through Safe Outdoor Spaces, with a goal of moving 90 people into housing. If successful on that goal, that’s a cost of $43,333 for each person’s permanent placement, increasing the stable housing outcomes from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4.

According to Cuica Montoya with CVC, the program was able to house 35 people in a month this year, which is a record high. The program is on pace to find permanent housing for 100 people, which would surpass its goal.

“We really look towards continuing to build a strong relationship with the city of Denver,” Montoya said. “We really see ourselves serving people and cycling them through this program to help them live the lives they want to live, in essence reducing the number of unsheltered homeless citywide.”

The funding approved by city council, totaling nearly $4 million from American Rescue Plan funds, will go toward improving the operation. Currently, the collaborative hosts Safe Outdoor Spaces at Denver Health, Denver Human Services and the newly relocated Barnum site.

A lot of the ARPA funding will go to big line items, including 24-7 staffing at sites, program materials, supplies for moving into permanent housing, etc. The cost of moving from site to site is also expensive. The Safe Outdoor Space site at Denver Health has a lease that expires Nov. 30, so it remains to be seen if the group will need to pack up and move again.

A new feature at the Barnum site is also expensive, but a worthwhile investment: pallet houses. The homes can cost up to $10,000, compared to $400-$500 per ice fishing tent, but offer better insulation and access to air conditioning and heat for tenants.