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Denver unveils $250-million plan to address homelessness, advocates argue it's not enough

The five-year 2023 plan is the city's seventh homelessness plan since 2005, though some have run concurrently. Advocates argue for more action.

DENVER — Denver plans to spend millions of dollars to re-house hundreds of people who are homeless and create hundreds more in affordable homes as part of its 2023 action plan, which some advocates said does not go far enough. 

Editor's note: The headline has been corrected due to a typo.

The plan, presented to the city council on Tuesday, is part of a broader five-year strategy to address housing in Denver. Priorities include:

  • Create and preserve 1,700 affordable homes.
  • Expand pathways to homeownership.
  • Serve more than 2,500 people currently homeless with rehousing and supportive housing.
  • Serve more than 8,000 households with housing stability programs.
  • Address unsheltered homelessness by implementing encampment decommissioning strategies.
  • Improve the homelessness resolution system for families.
  • Commission a disparity study.
  • Release a new publicly available financial dashboard.
  • Expand functionality and use of HOST data systems.
  • Prepare to implement the Affordable Housing Prioritization Policy.

The full plan is open for public comment and available here

"This plan does as much as we can with the level of resources that we have, which includes many federal funds and a lot of locally generated funds," said Denver Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher. "We’re using more resources than ever to get people quickly back to housing and to housing stability as possible."

Advocates said the city's plan doesn't do enough to address homelessness. "If they meet their current goals, homelessness and the cost of housing is going to continue to increase – and the situation is going to get worse because the need is so great," said Benjamin Dunning, an organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud.   

Fisher acknowledged it's not enough "until everyone is housed" and said the city won't rest until that happens. 

Dunning said the city does deserve credit for meeting its goals from its last plan to address homelessness in the city. "This is the first time that the city is getting close to meeting their plan goals," he said. 

According to its annual report, the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST) exceeded its goals for creating affordable housing in its last five-year plan, in part because of federal COVID assistance funds. HOST plans to utilize millions of dollars in federal funds to meet its 2023 goals as well. 

"This plan for 2023 takes advantage of those one-time funds, couples them with our ongoing funding and helps us make big leaps ahead in our plan," Fisher said. 

However, the problem continues to grow. The county's point-in-time count showed a 15% increase in people without housing from 2020 to 2022 — an increase of more than 600 people to nearly 5,000 total. Still, the city said it is making progress. 

"Our actions when it comes to housing are less visible," Fisher said. "You don't see people's house keys as easily as you see tents." 



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