Denver mayor hopes to strengthen his relationship with homeless community through tiny homes project

As construction gets closer to completion, the fight around issues related to the homeless community continue.

DENVER - Denver's first tiny home village is almost complete. Fourteen people currently experiencing homelessness will soon move into the 11 homes at the intersection of 38th Avenue and Walnut Street.

While the project is almost finished, the village's residents say issues surrounding the Denver homeless community continue. They had the opportunity to recently speak with Mayor Michael Hancock about the problems.

"He wanted to come put his hands on it, see what we were doing and meet us the villagers," says Chris Ollar, one of the future residents of the tiny homes village.

Before sitting down the villagers, the mayor pitched in on some of the construction.

"He came out and put some boards on the building," Ollar says. "Drove some nails in and I was able to show him how to use a nail gun."

The mayor's volunteer work is part of an initiative to "create and open up dialogs to find common ground with those experiencing homelessness," according to Erik Solivan, the executive director of the Mayor's Office of HOPE.

"The mayor really wanted an opportunity to have a private conversation with the villagers," Solivan said. "[He wanted to] talk - hear their individual stories, learn about their experiences and participate in this build of the tiny home village."

The number one change people without a place to stay want to see is "stopping the criminalization of homeless people," according to villagers.

"It's like we're a separate class of people that don't deserve the same rights as other people," Ollar said.

Solivan said the villagers were "frank and candid" with their comments which were well-received by the mayor. He said he plans to use them to help improve the relationship between the two parties.

"I think it's going to be a continuing dialogue to see how we move this work forward together," he said.

The tiny homes village organizers hope to finish construction next week. They're looking for volunteers to make that possible. If you're interested in helping, you can e-mail Mary Johnson at mjmanyik@gmail.com or Terese Howard at terese@denverhomelessoutloud.org.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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