DENVER, Colorado — Denver's sanctioned campsites for people experiencing homelessness have entered their second month of existence. They came with plenty of protest as well as good intentions, and the folks in charge plan to prove it's all worth it.
“We've had more people offering to volunteer and drop by food and items for unhoused neighbors. It's been really an inspiring month,” said Dr. Kathleen Van Voorhis, director of Housing Justice at Interfaith Alliance.
She said the two sites her organization helps run have provided a number of services successfully. It's a place to focus on getting on the right path to sobriety or to a job. Some just like knowing there's a place to shower or to use the restroom.
“There’s definitely a peacefulness in safe outdoor spaces, you know, the individuals have a home. They don't have to worry at night about where they're going to sleep the next day,” she said.
Ultimately, this is about housing. That, Van Voorhis said, is already happening, and some don't even need the tent inside the Safe Outdoor Space.
“Some of them didn't even make it into the SOS because of the connections and the intake process were able to be immediately housed,” said Van Voorhis. “That is definitely working in the way that we wanted it to work.”
But, the leases at the two sites, one on 16th Avenue and Pearl Street, the other at 14th Avenue and Grant Street, will only go for another five months. So, these kinds of connections could be short-lived. She's working on compiling data to prove the value, and build on the tents they've built. That data is expected in the coming weeks.
“While it doesn't eradicate homelessness, it definitely assists in giving people the opportunity to have a bathroom. Giving people the opportunity to have a place to sleep that's not people's front yards,” she said.
Mayor Michael Hancock initially approved three safe outdoor spaces. While nothing has been set in stone, there are ongoing talks about finding a location for another site.
The two current sites are at capacity.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Local stories from 9NEWS