Lockers Installed on Business Wall for People Experiencing Homelessness
Local Business, Sexy Pizza, Filling Gap Left by City Government’s Inaction By Partnering with Denver Homeless Out Loud
DENVER—October 3, 2017 — Sexy Pizza – with three locations in Denver – will be the first business in the city to set aside their exterior business wall for storage lockers reserved for people experiencing homelessness at their pizzeria on 11th and Ogden. All of the Sexy Pizza owners are supportive of supplying the space for the lockers. This includes Kayvan Khalatbari, a 2019 candidate for Mayor of Denver and an advocate for homeless policy reform, who was key in partnering with Denver Homeless Out Loud to bring these lockers to Sexy Pizza.
“The lack of accommodations serving basic needs for people experiencing homelessness in Denver is alarming.” says Mr. Khalatbari. “As a city we are not making the investments necessary to ensure this vulnerable population has an opportunity to realistically get back on their feet, so much that we felt it incumbent on us to get our business involved in supporting creative solutions.”
The locker project is created and run by Denver Homeless Out Loud, a community organization working on behalf of individuals experiencing homelessness. The wall space available will accommodate four lockers. Through an application process that considers specific needs, DHOL has identified four individuals to be the first recipients of these lockers.
These lockers will partially alleviate a lack of storage facilities for personal belongings, one of the larger burdens of being unhoused. Without access to secure storage, people experiencing homelessness must carry their only possessions with them throughout their day, often inciting debilitating back pain. Additionally, this underserved need results in a loss of survival gear such as blankets and tarps through police sweeps and theft, a loss of personal identification, and discrimination when trying to obtain employment or patronize businesses. These lockers will help individuals overcome many of those burdens, thus significantly improving their quality of life and their ability to get back on their feet.
“As a homeless human having a safe and secure locker to store my belongings will give me a solid peace of mind when I go into the workforce,” says locker recipient Ben. Another locker recipient Mik says, “I feel I can be a more productive person by being able to store my things instead of carrying them everyday.” And yet another locker recipient Cassie says, “With a safe locker to put our belongings in, we will not be discriminated against.”
Gifted with the lockers, Denver Homeless Out Loud installed and will maintain the four lockers, which carry a total cost of $80 in paint, parts, locks, and bolts. Similar locker sets can be purchased for about $50, making the total potential cost of future locker installation of this size around $130. This is a stark difference compared to the cost of lockers recently installed by the City and County of Denver near the Samaritan House, which totaled $3,000 per locker. Though larger in size, the cost of the City’s lockers highlights the City’s current inefficient approach to helping those experiencing homelessness in an effective and cost-sensitive manner. DHOL could install 92 lockers like those at Sexy Pizza for the price of one city locker. DHOL is proud of what community members and businesses can accomplish together, and the incredibly positive impact they can have on people’s daily lives when working collaboratively.
“With more than 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Denver and the number growing every day, we’re in crisis mode.” says Denver Homeless Out Loud’s Terese Howard. “We know we can’t rely on those in government to support effective solutions, and that we need to seek out other stakeholders to fill the widening gap in necessary services.”
Denver Homeless Out Loud and Mr. Khalatbari are now seeking out other central Denver businesses to support the expansion of this program as winter approaches.