DENVER (KDVR) — Federal grants totaling more than $6 million will be presented to the City and County of Denver early next month in order to help with the homeless issue plaguing the city.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a Social Impact Partnership to Pay for Results Act Project grant for $5,512,000 and a SIPPRA Independent Evaluator grant for $826,800 will be on the table for Denver’s Housing to Health program.
“This investment will allow more Denver residents, who are experiencing homelessness, to receive basic housing and health services, which will make a substantial difference in the lives of these individuals and provide benefits to the whole community,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said. “Homelessness and housing insecurity are one of the most significant challenges that a person or family can face. The Treasury Department will continue to work with communities across the country as they seek to address this challenge and provide opportunities to those at-risk of being homeless.”
Just as the homeless-populated Civic Center Park is about to be closed off, the offer for the funds comes at a time when the city continues to figure out ways to solve the looming issue.
“We’re honored that Denver has been selected as the first city to tackle the complicated issue of homelessness through a Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act award from the U.S. Treasury Department,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Through our previous work, we housed more than 250 people experiencing homelessness who were frequently interacting with police, our jails and emergency care, and we proved that when housed and wrapped with services, people encountered the criminal justice system less often and dramatically increased their use of preventative medical care. This is a win-win for everyone involved because the wellbeing of these individuals is greatly improved and the city is able to redirect those costs to other needs.”
The grants have been offered by the treasury department, but the city still has to present them to the council for approval and go through Denver’s legislative and executive process to receive them. That meeting is expected to take place in early October.
Other funding for the Denver homeless issue
Denver residents approved a November 2020 tax initiative that will raise an estimated $40 million a year for the Denver Department of Housing Stability.
In the last three years, the department’s funding has increased more than 1,000%. In 2018, there was $3.3 million allocated for homelessness, or 12% of the total funding. In 2020, there was $35 million allocated for homelessness – 70% of the total funding.
Why Denver is shutting down Civic Center Park, other homeless sweeps
Denver will shut down Civic Center Park for “restoration,” clearing out the people who live and congregate there along with accumulated trash, rodent infestations and hazardous waste the city says pose “significant public health and environmental risks.”
“The park is no longer safe for the general public,” Danica Lee, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment’s director of public health investigations division said. “It’s important we do a deep dive in the grassy areas and clean that up so it’s safe for everybody.”
Homeless sweeps are nothing new in Denver. Benjamin Dunning, an organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud, said his clients are used to the police pushing them throughout the city.
“The city wants to believe that they can make visible poverty invisible,” Dunning said.