Letter Concerning Housing Fund Plan

Dear Office of the Mayor,

In regards to the new funding stream for housing, Denver Homeless Out Loud has the following to say. Well it is about time. The first step in a 1000 mile journey has finally been taken. This dedicated funding stream has been needed for at least a decade. And now it is about exist. Much like the college student turning in his first weekly assignment just after mid terms and then expecting high marks and accolades for his effort, such is Denver’s first attempt to meet its long standing housing need. Denver has been one of the few cities its size not to have such a funding stream. No wonder there is such a need for housing that people can actually afford. While it is a start, there is a lot of make-up home work that needs to be completed quickly or the crises will only worsen. And fast.

While finally available we note that this funding stream is far below the critical need for the city of Denver, a need which will only grow as people flock to our city. Funding levels for housing need to increase dramatically and quickly. Approximately 10 times as much as is proposed in this legislation is needed now. (if you compare to funding streams of cities comparable to Denver’s size). Portland Government Website states, Unprecedented population growth is forecasted for the Portland Metro area ‐  another 200,000 residents are expected by 2035. This growth will further pressure the upward cost of housing. The current need for affordable housing in our Metro region is 40,000 units and the deficit increases steadily. An estimated $1 billion investment over the next 20 years will be needed to address the magnitude of our affordable housing crisis.” As the years go buy the need will only be greater here in Denver. How will we ever met the housing need if we only make plans to meet a small portion of that need to begin with? We implore to city to increase the level of funding and increase the goals of the numbers of units. (stated goals are, at most, 10% of the need). The city does not need an expensive failure. Much like the college student who wastes his tuition money because he decided to delay starting his studies till after midterms, his chances of catching up are slim. So are Denver’s. But success is not impossible. A great concerted and urgent effort is needed.

Unfortunately there are some signs that this is only a token effort. A Public Relations move at best. You would think that the funding would first be allocated for those with the greatest need first. Which for Denver is low income housing. Think about it. People who can afford “market rate” housing can also afford low income housing. People who can afford “workforce housing” can also afford low income housing. But low income folks cannot afford market rate housing. Low income folks cannot afford workforce housing. Common sense would seem to state you get every one into something that they can afford first and work your way up towards less urgent needs as you address the crisis. Strange how this funding stream is available to folks who make as much as 120% AMI. I would think that people who make anything close to or over 100% AMI would be considered able to afford “market rate” housing. Housing that costs beyond that being considered “luxury”. And thus not funded by the city. Yet the city seems unwilling to acknowledge the need for low income housing much less fund it. Projects designed for those at the 30-40% AMI level would seem most appropriate for a city full of low wage earning restaurant and hospitality workers. It is our cities greatest need. Or these workers will be forced to work their jobs while sleeping in the dirt (there are many who do already).

The city has coddled developers’ desires to build on the high end for too long. The best way to get the heavily needed low income housing is to fund it. Then when there is enough housing available for everybody we can look at more expensive forms of housing. It will help with the crisis. Volume. Numbers of units. Not dollars spent. 1 million spent on 10 units is not as effective as half a million spent on 50 units. Developers will whine and complain along the way but will find a way to comply and make money. They are smart enough to figure out a way to make such projects work for them. They just need to be pushed to do so.

So much like the college student who has dug himself a big hole in his coursework, Denver has a big hole to climb out of in regards to housing. Thanks for the first attempt. It is a start on a long journey. Keep it coming but our hopes at this point for the City being able to effectively address the greatest need is guarded at best.

 

Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

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HOST 5 Year Housing Plan to Continue Mass Homelessness

HOST 5 Year Housing Plan is to Continue Mass Homelessness and Housing Insecurity 

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The Department of Housing and Stability (HOST) has released their draft five year housing plan. The plan would be aptly renamed as ‘a plan to continue mass homelessness and keep people struggling to pay their rent.’ We want to share why we oppose this plan and what the plan should be instead. And we want to ask you to speak up to demand our City make a plan to actually ensure the people of Denver are ‘healthy, housed, and connected.’ 

How much is the need? 

The report shares some important data on the scale of the housing need in Denver. According to the report:

‘Denver has a shortage of nearly 19,000 rental units at or below 30% AMI, a shortage of 20,000 rental units at or below 50% AMI, and a shortage of more than 11,000 rental units at or below 60% AMI’ (page 13). 

‘And while the last complete count showed more than 4,100 persons experiencing homelessness prior to the pandemic, the number of people in shelters increased 60% during the year after the pandemic’ (page 1) and it is obvious there has been an increase in homeless people living outdoors too. A best estimate for the number of people homeless in Denver now should be at the very least 7,000 (to be very conservative and not to include people who are couch surfing or doubled up in housing. It should also be noted that The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) put the number of unique individuals that touched the homeless service providers of Denver Metro (7 counties) at 31,207 (State of Homelessness page 14). 

Using HOSTs own numbers, all this need added together we are looking at a need of roughly 57,000 more housing options under 60%AMI. 

How much of the need would their plan meet?

The HOST plan is largely silent on goals for numbers of housing units created or number of people housed. Instead the plan refers mostly to the % of people served. Only one number of housing units is named as a goal – 7,000 units created OR preserved over the next 5 years. The plan does not break down these 7,000 units into AMI levels. This extremely vague housing goal makes it impossible to see any concrete number of new housing units for any AMI level. All we can do is use our educated guess to estimate how many units of 0-30% AMI housing are planned to be created in the next 5 years. To give the benefit of the doubt let’s say 5,000 of these units are newly created (not preserved), and one quarter of those are built for 0-30% AMI, that would be 1,250 over the next 5 years, or 250 housing units a year. That is 3.5% of the need. 

How much would it cost to meet the need? 

The HOST report lists their own approximate costs for housing. The average funding HOST provides per unit of affordable housing is $20,000 (page 53). The average annual cost for rent and supportive services in supportive housing is $25,000 (page 53). If we were to house at least the 7,000 people we know are homeless right now, and if we were to assume one quarter of these people need ‘supportive housing,’ it would cost $148,750,000. In order to provide the average of $20,000 per affordable housing unit for the full 57,000 it would cost just over $1billion. 

For context, the total Denver 2021 operating budget is 2.1billion. 

Why is this plan not being real about the cost of the need ?

These are big numbers. At least for a city perspective. Yet from a federal perspective they are small. The federal budget for one attack submarine is 3 billion – twice the amount of all federal homeless assistance grants (Without Housing page 38). The federal government has, in fact, in the past funded public low income housing at these levels. But since the early 1980’s that funding has been slashed to nothing (Without Housing page 30). In 2019 there was a bill in congress called the Homes for All Act which would bring back federal funding for public housing at the scale of the need. This bill would create 12 million new public low income housing units along with other investments to preserve attainable housing. This bill was killed in 2019 but may be back this year.

While these are big numbers for the city, they are not as big when you compare them to current city spending on police and jails. The 2021 Denver budget for police and jails was $588,354,653 (Denver Budget page 569) – enough to house over half of the 57,000 people cost burden below 50% AMI plus the whole unhoused population. If we were to just cut the police and jail budget by one quarter that funding would be $147,088,663 – enough to house at least 7,000 people who are homeless in Denver right now. 

These numbers also do not appear as undoable when you compare them to current spending on shelters. HOST themselves state that it costs $25,000 for the average annual cost per bed of a 24/7 shelter. The same as the average annual cost for rent and supportive services in supportive housing (53). If we are currently spending this much to keep people in mass congregate shelters, why do we not use that money to house these folks!? There are currently 2,100 shelter beds – everyone of the people staying in these beds could be living in houses for the same amount it cost to run the shelter system. 

So why does HOST’s 5 year plan not name these real costs of housing our people? Probably because they don’t want to admit how short of meeting the need their plan is, and because they don’t want to reallocate funds from places like police or shelters in order to build housing. 

If the city refuses to take the steps necessary to move money from harmful places into housing in order to house the people of Denver, what should be done with the small amount of funding that is allocated for housing and homelessness? 

The 5 year plan states a goal of reducing unsheltered homelessness by 50%. Yet the means it names to reduce unsheltered homelessness are improving the shelter system, more SOS sites, and more outreach – not more housing. Their version of reducing unsheltered homelessness is to push unsheltered homeless folks into shelters, not to open up housing. If they are not going to provide housing for these folks, funding should be used to provide sanitation resources where people are living outside. Human beings cannot be forced into shelters that do not work for them. Furthermore, providing basic sanitation needs at encampments would be a fraction of the cost of shelters.  

As noted earlier, it cost $25,000 to shelter someone and $25,000 to provide supportive housing. Money that is being dedicated to the shelter system should be used to move the 2,100 people staying in shelters into housing. Some emergency shelters should be kept available, but by housing the 2,000 plus people currently living in shelters, resources can be opened up to serve people who have emergency shelter needs (the way shelters were originally supposed to be), not to treat shelters like housing where people live for years.

If the city is only allocating this small budget for housing, a large % should be allocated for 30% and below (at least 40% of units created), as well as a large % for 50% AMI (at least 40% of units created). The data shows that is where the need is so that is where we should be putting our funds. The plan should clearly state and commit to these AMI breakdowns for the 7,000 units they create. 

It is possible for our country to make housing a human right, attainable for all. It is time that both cities and the federal government quit pointing the finger at each other and start stepping up to do their part. It is time that Denver admit it is possible in their housing plan and do their part to move funding from harmful places (like police, jails, shelters, and bloated administrations) into housing. It is time we pass bills in congress like the Homes for All Act. It is time we quit making housing a commodity for profit and start making housing a part of our human infrastructure!

Read the Full HOST Five Year Housing Plan

Complete the HOST survey to give your feedback on this plan here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/denverhost 

Public Health Professionals Call on DDPHE Board

Public Health Professionals Call on DDPHE Board 

Lead the Way to Prevent Harm by Ending Sweeps and Providing for Health

Five local public health professionals wrote letters to DDPHE Board asking them to lead the department toward preventative measures including bathrooms, water, and trash collection as opposed to sweeps of encampments. Read their letters attached.

Swept to Nowhere Report Release

Swept to Nowhere Report Release 

July 19th 12noon

Civic Center Park (across from the City and County Building under the big tree)

On Monday July 19th Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) will release Swept to Nowhere a report generated from a survey of 150 people living on the streets of Denver.

This report shares and analyzes the experiences of people without housing directly affected by the sweeps in Denver, Colorado. The findings give us a critical foundation for understanding how sweeps are being conducted on the Denver streets, their consequences and what changes should be implemented. 

This survey asked 29 questions about people’s personal experience with sweeps,  storage of belongings as a result of those sweeps, and provided an opportunity for input on these processes. 

The findings show the types of locations people move to when swept and how often people living on the streets experience sweeps. This report shows the kinds of property lost in sweeps and how attempts to retrieve property from the city storage have gone. Based on the survey results the report gives 16 recommendations for improvements.

Save the date! Hear a presentation of Swept to Nowhere and get a copy of the report.

Monday Jul 19, 2021 at 12noon at Civic Center Park.

Contact:

Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org 

720-940-5291

Ballot Initiative in Denver for Individual Enforcement of the Camping Ban and Relocation to Mass Campsites

INSTEAD OF CHOOSING TO DO BETTER DENVER IS TRYING TO DO WORSE!!!

Ballot Initiative in Denver for Individual Enforcement of the Camping Ban and Relocation to Mass Campsites (if sites are even created…)

They call it “Let’s Do Better” but instead they are doing worse!! 

The “Let’s Do Better” ballot initiative turned in their signatures for the November 2021 ballot on July 6th. This initiative would enable private individuals to force the city police through threat of civil suit to enforce the Camping Ban within 72 hours of when they call to complain and push houseless people into a max of four legal campsites (if they are ever even created). 

Signature gathers lied to signers saying the initiative would “help the homeless by creating four camping areas where people can stay.” This initiative does not create ANY camping areas and instead CAPS the amount at four. 

If you signed this petition you can still take your signature off until Jul 30, 2021. 

Here is how:

Email Elections@denvergov.org or kevin.cascillo@denvergov.org and request that your signature be removed from the petition. Include your full name and address as they appeared on the petition you signed. 

More info on the initiative– 

  • The ‘Camping Ban’ is a law in Denver right now that makes it illegal to use ‘any form of protection from the elements other than one’s clothing.’ 
    • Note: Camping Bans have been found unconstitutional across the country 

The city does enforce this law across Denver right now – chasing homeless people from block to block – but with thousands of people homeless on the streets of Denver it is impossible for the city to police every homeless person out of sight. Enforcing the camping ban does not get people housing. 

This initiative would…

-Enable any resident to sue the city if police don’t enforce the camping ban within 72 hours – 

redirecting resources from housing to litigation where the rich will most certainly win. 

-Make private individuals the ones deciding who is violating the law and forcing police action.

-Violate the property rights laid out in the Lyall settlement which require 7 days notice prior to seizing property. 

-Turn to more policing as the answer to homelessness.

-Cap the number of legal campsites on public land at 4 for the whole City 

-Attempt to push at least 1,000 (if you are using the point in time one day count), or more realistically 4,000 (if you include all those uncounted in the one day count) people who are homeless just outdoors, just right now in Denver into 4 spaces.

This initiative would NOT…

-Require the legal campsites ever even be created.

-Create any housing options or on roads to housing for any of the thousands of homeless people in Denver. 

Read the full ballot initiative here 

If you signed the petition to get this on the ballot, you can still take your signature off until …!!

Historical Context

The ‘Let’s Do Better’ initiative (aka the anti-homeless, further camping ban enforcement initiative) has striking and disturbing similarities to racist policies and practices of the past. 

Japanese internment camps were created to keep people of Japanese descent in consolidated camps – these were accepted in the US from 1942 to 1945 but then after have been widely considered ‘one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.’ 

Native American reservations were created to push indigenous peoples’ into certain areas to enable white colonists to take the land they wanted. 

Sundown Towns did not allow people who were considered “minorities” to remain in the town after the sun set. Sundown Towns existed throughout the United States and there were thousands of them before the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination in housing practices. 

(See more on historical criminalization of race and poverty tied to homelessness criminalization here).

Just like these racist containment policies of the past, the current Denver ‘Let’s Do Better’ initiative tries to set up a path to contain all homeless people in shelters or in designated campsites. If the proponents of the initiative could get what they are seeking in this initiative, all people who are without housing living on the streets of Denver (currently somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 depending on whose numbers you use) would have the camping ban enforced on them to a level where they have no choice but to go into a designated controlled campsite, or else go to jail, or die. 

As a society we have rejected these containment policies of the past. We must also reject this attempt to contain all homeless people as a total ‘unwanted group’ in a few controlled designated areas and criminalize existing anywhere else. 

How can I Help Stop This?

If you signed the petition after being lied to about what it would do, request your signature be taken off! 

Tell others how to have their signature removed.

Educate the public what this initiative is really about ahead of it potentially making the ballot.

Contact: Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org 720-940-5291

Response to DDPHE Board’s Questions on Sweeps

The Board of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) wrote DDPHE leadership asking a series of excellent questions about their role in the sweeps and with the homeless community. 


DDPHE’s response was filled with lies, omissions, misleading claims, and offensive language regarding unhoused people.


We in Denver Homeless Out Loud sent DDPHE’s Board the following letter responding to their poignant questions and DDPHE’s response. 


We are grateful to DDPHE Board for calling DDPHE to question on these issues and hopeful this will lead to accountability for DDPHE in doing their job.

Housing Plan Continues Mass Homelessness and Housing Instability in 2021

SAME OLD, SAME OLD Denver HOST 

Housing Plan Continues Mass Homelessness and Housing Instability in 2021

…But they pretend they are doing great things. The Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST) has released their 2021 draft plan. The draft plan takes 28 pages to say that they will not be creating housing for those without housing or severely cost burdened trying to afford their housing. The plan gives important data showing the severity of our housing need for poor and BIPOC people. But instead of responding to this massive injustice of house-hoarding by the rich and white to create a plan for making housing attainable for all, the plan says the City can’t do this and will only create housing at the same rate they have been for the past many years. 

Under this plan, 610 new housing units will be created – and it does not even say how many of these units will be for people earning below 30% AMI. 

It does say 130 will be “supportive” housing (meaning low income with other services). These are likely the only units that are being made attainable for low / no-income people coming from homelessness. So expect to see 130 of the 10,000 plus people who are homeless housed in 2021.

All the case management, street outreach, employment programs in the world cannot land someone in a home if there is not housing made available for them to move into. 

The plan uses big numbers and fancy sounding goals like “Support 5,000 households in homelessness resolution programs” but when you look at what this includes (e.g., shelter, street outreach, rehousing programs, employment programs) you find none of it includes creating actual housing options for these people. 

How many times do we need to correct our City for equating shelters with housing??? A mass congregate shelter where you live in big open rooms with hundreds of others is not a house. 

The plan notes that, “Due to safe distancing requirements with the coronavirus, we lost more than half of our shelter capacity” (now totaling 900 beds). The plan also notes that “while comprising less than 1% of Denver residents, about 5% of all those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are persons experiencing homelessness” (almost all of these live in shelters). 

But instead of seeing this as an indication that shelters are not a good place for people to live, especially during this pandemic, they make plans to rebuild the shelter system back to pre-COVID numbers. The plan notes that, “Through July 2020, the City spent roughly $27.9 million on sheltering support.” Instead of being spent to shore up shelters, this $27.9 million could create permanent housing for about 135 of these people (based on City estimates of $200,000 per unit) or it could open up temporary (indefinite months) hotel rooms for all 900 people in the shelters plus some (based on the cost of the current hotel contract with CCH). 

The way it stands, this is not a plan to house the people of Denver. It is a plan to keep the status quo of mass homelessness, housing instability, warehousing, and criminalization of visible homelessness. 

If the City is going to put forward a plan like this that admits they will not be creating enough housing for all and that thousands of people will be forced to live on the streets without access to housing, at the very least they need to include a plan to end the criminalization of this public houseless survival. This plan should note that since they will not be providing housing options for all, people without housing forced to live on the streets will not be swept from block to block, approached by police with Survival Ban enforcement for using a tent or blanket, and will be provided necessary sanitation resources such as portable toilets, sharps collection, trash containers and collection services, handwashing stations, and clean drinking water.

Alternatively, the City can make a plan to move money, land, and laws around so as to make housing attainable for all in Denver. Money could be moved from the Police, Jails, Shelters, Administration, Golf Courses, and other harmful or bloated budget items to create this housing. Vacant land could be made available for immediate tent survival and long term housing construction. And laws could be changed to open up existing vacant hotels and housing units for people without housing to live. 

Housing is a human right. Not a privilege for the rich. Denver MUST make a housing budget that treats housing as right not a privilege. This plan is not “Doing Better.” 

City Meetings Relevant to Homelessness

City Meetings Relevant to Homelessness 

Listen and Speak!

The following is a list of public city meetings relevant to homelessness. The community needs to know what the city is doing and be a part of directing decisions made! Most importantly, the city needs to hear from everyone directly experiencing homelessness and from those on the front lines of homelessness everyday. Join these meetings to learn what the city is (and is not) doing, and to speak when possible about the realities of life without housing and our immediate need for rights, dignity, and housing! 

What: General Public Comment

When: Meets Mondays at 5-5:30pm

Where: Virtually at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3GN7Zv99SluXrlm4UC8NLQ

Password: Denver

To call in to listen: 720-928-9299 enter 960 0657 7923 for the webinar ID. 

How: Starting at 12 p.m. on the Friday before the next scheduled general public comment session, sign up

Topics are required, so include them in all emails and voicemails, or your submission will be considered void.

Sign-up closes at 4 p.m. the day of the general public comment session.

Why: To speak to the full City Council about the realities and needs of homelessness and housing!

What: Safety, Housing, Education, Homelessness Committee 

When: Meets most Wednesdays at 10:30-11:30am 

Where: Virtually at

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SrJLqP3TTRqWZrnyFczQ1A

Password: Denver

To call in to listen: 720-928-9299 enter 928 4470 0421 for the webinar  ID. 

How: Public comment in committee can only be on a specific agenda item, it is not a general public comment.

Why: To listen to the Council Committee discuss issues relevant to homelessness and housing and to speak to this committee on specific proposals when applicable. 

What: Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) Board

When: Meets at 5:30pm on the second Thursday of each month

Where: Virtually follow steps on this link

https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Public-Health-Environment/About-Us/Board-of-Public-Health-Environment

How: Starting one week before every meeting, sign up using the form below; sign-up closes at 4:30 p.m. the day of the general public comment session. https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Public-Health-Environment/About-Us/Board-of-Public-Health-Environment 

Why: To listen to DDPHE periodically discuss issues of homelessness and to speak to the board about what they should be doing within their mission for public health to support those without housing. 

What: Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP) Advisory Board

When: Meets the 4th Friday of every month from 9am to 11am; open to the public.

Where: Virtually at Meeting link:

https://denvergov-org.zoom.us/j/91463877780

Meeting ID: 914 6387 7780 

How: Put a comment in the chat asking to speak in public comment. 

https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Human-Rights-Community-Partnerships/Advisory-Board

Why: To listen to the HRCP Board discuss issues of human rights and speak to them of the human rights of people without housing.

What: Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

When: Meets the second Wednesday of each month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Where: Virtually at https://denvergov-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_naLQZGRhRx-2kxgVCDnYVQ 

How: To provide comment at the public hearing, email Arthur.Gilkison@denvergov.org

Why: To listen to the advisory committee discuss issues relevant to parks and homelessness and to speak to the committee when it’s an option about the need for parks to be accessible and supportive of people who are homeless. 

What: Denver Water Board 

When: Meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 9am.

Where: Virtually at the zoom link at the top of the weeks agenda on this link 2021 Public Water Board Meeting Agendas and Minutes | Denver Water.

How: Email Pat.Williams@denverwater.org and inform them you would like to speak at the next board meeting.

Why: To listen to relevant water issues and to speak to the board about the need for clean, accessible, public water for those without water.

Contact us at info@denverhomelessoutloud.org or 720-940-5291 to learn more about key issues to speak on, specific city proposals related to homelessness, or how to make your voice heard as someone without housing. We Demand Rights, Dignity, and Housing Now! 

Denver Budget Proposals 2021

Denver Budget Proposals 2021

Sanitation Resources and Housing

Proposals drafted by Denver Homeless Out Loud

Sanitation Stations for Houseless Encampments: $700,000 

This will pay for the following:

-25 portable toilets, serviced 5 days a week

-Gift card of $70 a week payment for encampment resident employed to do extra cleaning of the portable toilet 

-Cleaning supplies 

-25 handwashing stations

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriff’s Department. 

Note: These cost estimates are based on our spending as DHOL on these services over the past 6 months. The City has an existing contract with Liberty Waste Management that could likely cover much of these costs, and at a much lower rate.

Trash Services for Houseless Encampments: $300,000

This will pay for the following:

-Doubling the size of the existing Triangle Works crew to employ at least 5 more homeless people to help clean the streets and encampments.

-Placing and servicing at least 50 trash cans at encampments where people live without trash services.

-Placing and servicing at least 5 dumpsters at larger encampments where people live without trash services.

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. 

Note: The cleaning crew cost estimates are based on Bayaud Enterprises cost of running the Triangle Works program. The trash can and dumpster cost estimates are based on estimates from companies and needs to be clarified with DOTI from their experience providing this service. 

Water for Houseless Encampments: $300,000

This will pay for the following:

-Water tap drinking water transfers for fire hydrants or other water sources

Or

-15, 55 gallon water jugs with spigot for drinking, filled 5 days a week  

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. 

Note: These cost estimates need further clarification 

Hotel Housing for at least 2,000 Houseless People: $51,000,000

This will pay for the following:

-The City recently spent $17,000,000 on an existing contract with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to run hotel rooms for at 670+ people. If we triple this spending we could house at least 2,000 housless people in hotels. This could house the entire population of shelter guests (noted at 900) plus another 1,100 people staying outside or in other houseless situations. 

Department:

This funding would go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. It could also come from the existing shelter budget as all shelter guests could be moved to these hotels. 

Note: These cost estimates could use further clarification from HOST and CCH on existing hotel costs and time frames. 

Housing for at least 4,171 Houseless People: $834,200,000

This will pay for the following:

-The City has stated that each “affordable” housing unit costs them about $200,000. Based on this estimate this proposed housing budget should house the total number of people counted homeless in 2020. This does not mean all homeless people as the PIT is a known undercount, but it would be a good start. 

Department:

This funding would go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriff’s Department. It could also come from the existing shelter budget as all shelter guests could be moved to this housing. 

Note: The cost of creating attainable housing units from the ground up vs as vouchers for existing units vs renovation of existing non-functional hotels/housing vs tiny homes or other alternative housing on vacant land all differ. But if all this 800+ million went directly to creating housing all of the 4,171 counted houseless people could be housed. 

Additional Process Note: Some of these proposals have been moved forward by Councilwomen Candi CdeBaca (D9). The rest of City Council will have an opportunity to support these basic needs by voting in favor of those proposals.

Lawsuit Filed Against the Sweeps and the City’s Ongoing Violations of Lawsuit Settlement

Lawsuit Filed Against the Sweeps and the City’s Ongoing Violations of Lawsuit Settlement

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Plaintiff speaks at press conference today announcing the lawsuit

Today, October 5th 2020, a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction was filed against the City of Denver for violating constitutional rights of homeless individuals, and violating the agreed upon settlement from Lyall v CIty of Denver, in on-going sweeps. The suit is filed by Andrew McNaulty of Killmer Lane and Newman on behalf of 10 homeless individuals as well as all others in the class of homeless people and those of us from Denver Homeless Out Loud who have suffered from sweeps. This case seeks an injunction to stop the homeless sweeps (and enforcement of the Camping Ban) during the COVID-19 pandemic (and afterwards), the seizure of homeless individuals’ property without notice, the destruction of homeless individuals’ property, and the continuing violation of the Lyall v. Denver settlement agreement. 

This lawsuit comes after a series of egregious sweeps conducted by the City with no notice at Lincoln Park at the end of July, Morey Middle School at the beginning of August, and along the South Platte River a week ago. In addition, at least 20 other sweeps, plus daily camping ban enforcement, have continued to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The City cannot continue to blatantly violate the rights of people without housing and furthermore violate the settlement agreement they made with the homeless community to give proper notice prior to sweeps and to store property instead of trashing it. The City cannot continue to ignore CDC guidance to not sweep and to instead provide sanitation resources where people live in encampments. 

Plaintiffs in this case lost medications, irreplaceable memorabilia, all their protection from the elements, and have been pushed into congregate shelters where one lead plaintiff with a heart condition could have died when they caught COVID.

Our City refuses to listen to the cries of the people to stop this inhumane insanity, so we have no choice but to take this cry to the courts.

City Planning Sweep and Closure of Encampment Just after COVID Testing Found Zero Positive Cases in this Encampment

City Planning Sweep and Closure of Encampment Just after COVID Testing Found Zero Positive Cases in this Encampment

STOP THE TERROR!! HOUSING NOT SWEEPS!!

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On Wednesday June 17th 2020 the City, using the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), is planning a sweep and closure of all the encampments along 22nd, Stout, and Champa. There are about 97 tents in this area which means roughly 250 people. These are the very same camps that just tested for COVID and found zero positive cases. They are planning this sweep without even replying to the demand of the camp residents that decision makers with DDPHE come to the streets and meet with them to hear the needs of residents and how to really address health and safety needs. They are planning this sweep without giving any reply to the letter we sent laying out solutions to the issues they raised (see attached). They are planning this sweep regardless of CDC guidance which states that encampments should not be swept during COVID and instead bathrooms and handwashing stations should be provided. 

This sweep and closure also goes directly against the agreement from the Mayor’s office to “not displace people or their property during this emergency” and then later the agreement to allow people to return to the area after a sweep. The Mayor will not stop lying to us. 

Why are they doing this?? To try and push people out of sight out of mind, to appease businesses and neighbors, and to make it look like they are doing something about visible homelessness as is directed by Mayor Hancock. Will they achieve their goals with this sweep? NO. Is this about Health and Safety as they say it is? NO. As is shown in the COVID test results where 0 people test positive at encampments, whereas at least 106 have tested positive at shelters, it is healthier for people to stay outside in a tent than in a shelter. Yet, regardless of all the evidence DDPHE and the City are still telling people to go to leave their tents and go to shelters. 

Again we must make these demands the City and DDPHE:

  • Schedule a meeting with a decision maker in DDPHE to with encampment residents before Wednesday (contact us at DHOl to schedule this street meeting).
  • Start meeting the actual health and safety needs of encampment residents by providing trash cans, dumpsters, port-a-potties, handwashing stations, and other sanitation needs. 
  • Call off the Sweep!! Start investing in HOUSING not SWEEPS.