LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A proposal is being considered to build a new housing complex for homeless people on federal land in Lakewood, and the size of the project is drawing concerns from neighbors and city leaders.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless says their project will ultimately feature five buildings on 59 acres and housing for as many as 1,000 people. The vacant land the structures will be built on is near 6th and Union Boulevard.
“Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it,” a long-time Lakewood resident named Jen told CBS4. Like others, she knows more needs to be done to battle homelessness, but she said she was stunned to learn of the scope of the project.
“We want to help. But hearing that they’re planning a 600 unit project in a community like this doesn’t make any sense.”
The City of Lakewood has no authority over the use of the land, which sits right next to the Denver Federal Center. It was deemed surplus federal property and under the Homeless Assistance Act, agencies that serve the homeless have priority to acquire the property.
“This provides really a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said John Parvensky, president of the Coalition.
Parvensky says the development would initially feature a number of temporary shelters including container housing and possibly dome structures. And then eventually it would morph into a more permanent complex with up to 600 apartments. He says it would never resemble a “tent city” because all of the structures would be permanent.
“It’s less than what zoning would allow. We could actually build over 3,000 units of housing on this site,” Parvensky said. “We thought 3,000 units would be too much.”
People who have concerns about the project say the high concentration of low-income housing in one part of the city would put too much pressure on social service providers in the area.
A meeting is being held about the project Thursday at Alameda High School at 1255 Wadsworth Boulevard. It starts at 6:30 p.m.