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DENVER (KDVR) — As Denver continues to find solutions to the needs of those living on the streets, some business owners in the downtown area are worried about the safety of employees.

On March 1, the city will launch a new program to address those issues.

The city is already investing more than $10 million to create 250 apartments for people transitioning out of homelessness. This new effort will also promote increased safety.

The effort is welcomed by those working in close proximity to homeless encampments.

Employees at a local business on Colfax Avenue and Washington Street tell FOX31 they have witnessed drug deals and a one member of an encampment threatened to rape a female employee.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers asked the city about the issue of encampments in the downtown area.  The mayor’s office spokesperson Theresa Marchetta tells FOX31 an Early Intervention Team has been created as part of an intensified effort to address these issues.

“Just as we remain committed to connecting our unsheltered residents with services and support, we also will continue to address the public health and safety risks posed by encampments,” said Marchetta.

Starting March 1, anyone calling about encampments will be routed a team of  3-1-1 operators, ready to quickly get them to the right department.

Two safe outdoor spaces in the area are serving 70 people with a third expected to open soon.  Marchetta points out that not every call requires a police response.  

“Our first priority always is to connect our unhoused neighbors with safer, healthier and more stable options than living on the streets,” said Marchetta.

A 46-bed crisis stabilization center will also open in March along with a 450-bed shelter this spring. 

Business owners and residents near Colfax and Washington tell FOX31 they want to show compassion to those living on the streets while protecting their own well-being so everyone can experience a safer environment.