By Andrea Flores

DENVER CBS4)– The Colorado Village Collaborative is working with the City of Denver on securing a safe outdoor space for the homeless. After potential sites at the Denver Coliseum and a plaza near 24th and Welton fell through over the last few months, they’ve set up a mock safe outdoor space for the pubic to get a better idea of how the city’s first sanctioned campsite will work.

(credit: CBS)

Their large-scale plan includes 50 tents, 24-hour onsite management, and weekly trash pickup, but organizers hope a small-scale pop up at Belong Church in Denver this weekend will give concerned residents a better idea of the layout. It’s a first look at a concept to house Denver’s unsheltered homeless population.

“We’re really excited to have a proof of concept,” said Cuica Montoya, the Safe Outdoor Space manager for Colorado Village Collaborative. “People see what it looks like to have an illegal encampment in their neighborhood, but people don’t know what it looks like to have a managed, temporary campsite that’s addressing public health.”

The mock site includes socially distanced campsites complete with a cot, a sleeping bag, storage, space, and hygiene kits.

(credit: CBS)

After proposed sites fell through at the Denver Coliseum and a plaza near the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Five Points, mostly due to community opposition, Montoya knew a small-scale model would encourage community support.

“Encampments grow, the trash accumulates, there’s biohazards, so that’s what’s out there right now, which is totally different than what we plan on providing folks,” Montoya told CBS4’s Andrea Flores.

While neighborhoods around town have dismissed sanctioned sites in their backyard, Belong Church at 16th and Ogden offered up theirs.

“The reality of an unoccupied model gives people a chance of coming in and seeing that it’s not scary, that there’s nothing terrible here, there’s nothing frightening here, and it’s simply a place for other human beings to find rest,” said Reverend Jasper Peters.

Along with a safe place to sleep, safe outdoor space residents would have access to resources like restrooms, showers, and washing machines, something Colorado Village Collaborative says is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

“Give this a chance,” Montoya said. “You’re really going to see that this is just offering a very humane response to folks in a global health crisis.”

The site residents would also receive mental health support, housing resources, and outreach services. Montoya says more than 1,300 people are currently unhoused on the streets of Denver.

You can visit the unoccupied model of the safe outdoor space this weekend at Belong Church, 1615 N Ogden St. in Denver from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Andrea Flores

Comments (5)
  1. Joe Bloe says:

    Yeah, right. It will be a disgusting dump. When you a have you actually seen a homeless camp that doesn’t have trash, needles and bottles all over it?

  2. shonda maria says:

    That entire group of collaborators cannot even bring themselves to admit that the illegal camps are bad in the first place, which is why they protest the clearing and cleaning of them. They are scammers, liars and enablers. Cole Chandler and his Interfaith Alliance, from the top down. “”It’s not scary, there’s nothing terrible here, there’s nothing frightening here, and it’s simply a place for other human beings to find rest.”” Almost every one of them in the current encampments are mentally ill, completely methed out, dangerous, sexual felons that cannot find housing. “Sanctioning” these encampments is the perfect reason for all of the miscreants and low-breakers to stay in their current camps, which will still be everywhere you look. Until/unless you can force homeless to stay in a sanctioned encampment, the other, more dangerous type will still be lurking out there.

    1. shonda marie says:

      “Law-breaker”

      By the way, nice potted plants. I’m sure those will stick around once you add violence, prostitution and bike theft. As soon as you can bring yourself to admitting this exists.

  3. George W says:

    So that’s what the “ideal” homeless (public) camping solution looks like without used needles, bottles, bike chop shops, trash, feces, camp fires, clothing and people lounging about. What an amazing solution not based in reality, of course. And didn’t 80% voters of Denver vote to uphold the homeless camping ban?! Oh yes, but the weak police force and the spineless mayor and city council members won’t enforce the laws.

    1. manuel g says:

      They will never admit to themselves that the homeless in Denver were never “just one paycheck away” and have made poor decisions including hard drugs and sexual predation that keeps them from stable employment and housing. It’s a choice that any former homeless person will tell you has to be made first before housing will even come close to helping. And yes, something like 84% of Denver residents voted AGAINST PUBLIC CAMPING. Thanks for going against the will of the overwhelming majority of people, city officials.

      These current and future encampments are being called CandiVilles because of her enabling toward the homeless. Instead of fixing her district and making it better, cleaner, more livable for the people who abide by laws, pay ever-increasing taxes, and live respectable lives, she wants filth, chaos and anarchy. I hope she is recalled soon.

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