As Denver’s homeless population continues to grow, so does the urgency to do something about it.
Sometimes, all the homeless need is a bit of stability, a place to call home and not just a cot to crash on. That’s why a several advocacy groups are working to create a community of tiny houses.
The goal is to create a living environment for homeless people that the city of Denver currently doesn’t have.
“We have thousands and thousands and thousands of people without homes and our city’s current response is policing first, not housing first,” Terese Howard, an organizer for Denver Homeless Out Loud, said.
The city always points out that there is room in Denver homeless shelters. But according to Howard, shelters aren’t a dignified place to call home for many people like Chris Ollar and his wife, even though it is better than Ollar’s current situation.
“I have stayed in shelters; I have been on the streets,” he said. “We live under a tree. That’s our home address.”
Ollar and his wife are two of the people who hope to one day live in one of the tiny homes. Not only would he be a resident of the community, he’d help run it.
“The hope for the governing style is that we have direct democracy,” Ollar said.
Terese Howard said the residents will operate the community and make decisions about how to live in that space together.
The proposed space for the homes is near 38th St. and Walnut St. in the RiNo Arts District. The district’s president, Jamie Licko, said action needs to happen when it comes to the fight against homelessness.
“We made it a priority, last year, to really look at how we might meaningfully get involved in solutions,” Licko said. “Ultimately, we said if we don’t do it here, where will it go?”
She says she knows she and others can’t solve the entire issue of homelessness, but these smaller steps are necessary to make a much larger impact.
The project isn’t set in stone yet. The different advocacy groups have applied for a temporary zoning permit to have it built on a lot owned by Urban Land Conservancy. If approved, that’s where 11 tiny homes, a community kitchen and restroom area will be placed, but only for 180 days.
According to coordinators, a more permanent solution in a different location is already being looked into.