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Denver to acquire motels to shelter those experiencing homelessness

Author: Richard Cote | Published: 7:57 AM MDT June 30, 2021 | Updated: 9:37 PM MDT June 30, 2021

Hancock said COVID-19 pandemic has significantly worsened the homelessness situation in Denver and across the country.

DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock held a news conference on Wednesday to detail next steps in the city’s housing and homelessness recovery strategy.

Hancock announced an effort by the city to acquire and rehabilitate a number of hotels and motels to help people experiencing homelessness enter into housing.

“These acquisitions will deliver options for people in need much quicker than the traditional housing development,” Hancock said. 

Hancock said the pandemic showed that 24-hour shelters can be successful in the city and announced plans to expand safe outdoor spaces in Denver. Safe outdoor spaces are temporary, managed campsites approved by the city that were created in 2020 to serve people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

The city will work to further leverage an existing partnership with the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) to more quickly connect unhoused residents to available apartments, Hancock said. The city will also work to expand programs like rental assistance, utility assistance and eviction protection services.

“The aim of all of these steps in our entire strategy is to help as many of our unhoused residents as possible to enter housing and stay housed. When homelessness occurs we should do everything in our power as a society to make it brief and one time,” Hancock said. “House keys have more power to change a life than a tent.” 

Hancock went on to express his support for the city’s unauthorized camping ordinance, saying the city will soon be deploying a civilian enforcement team to support efforts to help end unsanctioned campsites and connect those experiencing homeless with services. 

“Unsanctioned encampments are not an option,” Hancock said.

Wednesday’s news conference was held at Denver’s newest 24/7 shelter located at 4600 E. 48th Ave. It was the third in a series of announcements addressing the city’s overall plan for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous two news conferences focused on public safety and the economy.

Hancock was joined by the Department of Housing Stability Executive Director, Britta Fisher, Denver Rescue Mission President and CEO, Brad Meuli and partners from Catholic Charities and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.