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Bus services for people experiencing homelessness set to expand in Denver

The transportation system will take people from shelters to different areas around town that provide homeless services.

DENVER — There are so many people experiencing homelessness in Denver that the shelters downtown can’t help everyone. Now, the city is expanding its bus services for the homeless to take people to places farther away that have more resources.

For nearly a decade, the city has operated a bus route between the shelters downtown and larger overflow shelters outside the city center. Now, that service is expanding.

"Transportation is a critical component to the homeless response system in Denver," said Cathy Alderman with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

When Denver starts its new bus service next year, it will run a full circular route through the city, stopping throughout the day at shelters and different spots with services for the homeless. 

"When those [downtown] shelters are full, they’re given the option to get on the bus and go to the shelter space that is available," Alderman said. "I do think that it’s a service that is absolutely needed. It’s a service that helps people. It’s a service that unfortunately we need because we have so many people experiencing homelessness and using shelters."

City Council recently approved a $950,000 contract with a company to continue running, twice a day, the bus routes that have existed since 2012. 

The city announced Monday a new $450,000 contract will be awarded to a different company to run the new shuttles starting in 2023. 

"Most of our guests do not have cars. They rely on bus transportation or walking. What we had heard from guests is that they were spending inordinate amounts of time with complicated routes to get to their basic employment," said Britta Fisher, Chief Housing Officer for the City and County of Denver.

The new shuttles will operate throughout the day. Advocates say the service will provide an opportunity for people to get to doctors' appointments or job interviews without having to pay for a normal bus ticket.

"We know that folks who are employed, who have access to services, are more likely to bounce back from an episode of experiencing homelessness," Fisher said. 

They're services that highlight the need all throughout the city.

"Of course, what we’d love to see is that we had enough housing in the city for everyone and so this transport may not be necessary," Alderman said. "But as a city, we’re just not there yet."


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