DENVER — Denver is set to spend $3.9 million on managed homeless campsites through the end of this year after the City Council approved the expansion of the program Monday.
The expanded contract will fund at least four camps sheltering approximately 370 people through Dec. 31, run by the Colorado Village Collaborative. The organization currently runs three camps, called Safe Outdoor Spaces, in the parking lots of the Human Services East Office, Regis University and Denver Health.
> The video above is from November: Denver approves safe outdoor space on city property
There have been six managed camps in the city since the program began in late 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic increasing unsheltered homelessness and raising public health concerns about indoor congregate shelters. To date, 242 people have lived in the camps for durations between 30 days and 14 months.
“The folks who are currently in Safe Outdoor Spaces have a safer place to be,” said Angie Nelson, director of the Denver Department of Housing Stability. “Couples are able to stay together, folks are able to be sheltered with their pets. We’ve really found this to be a valuable tool to add to the spectrum of shelter services to help meet people where they’re at.”
The council passed the contract in an 11-1 vote, with one council member absent and Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer voting no. Several council members said the camps are not an ideal situation, but they are an inexpensive, immediate option to address homelessness while the city invests in long-term solutions like affordable housing.
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