DENVER (CBS4) – Denver will soon have a sanctioned campsite for the city’s unhoused population. It comes as sweeps continue around town.
Thirty unhoused women will soon have a safe place to sleep. The parking lot outside the First Baptist Church of Denver is set to be the first safe outdoor space.
“We looked at more than 115 sites throughout Denver for these different locations, and then city council approved a temporary zoning permit waiver so that old zoning codes could be included in our sites,” said Kathleen Van Voorhis, Director of Housing Justice with the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. “First Baptist immediately offered up their site, and we moved forward on our women’s site with Earthlinks.”
The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado is collaborating with the church and other organizations to provide technical assistance and get the site up and running by the end of the week. The women’s safe sanctioned site is set to open Friday. Denver organization, Earthlinks, will staff and run the facility 24 hours a day.
“The Denver Street Outreach Collaborative will be referring the individuals into this program, so it is not a first come, first serve program,” Van Voorhis said. “Once they’re referred in, they’ll be given a shelter, cot, pad, sleeping bags, and everything they need to be warm.”
The site has will have onsite restrooms, showers, washers, dryers, and bike racks. There will be daily COVID-19 screenings, and all spaces are six feet apart. Their goal is to provide as many resources as possible.
“We have mental health services, doctors, dentists, GRE programs, and workforce training,” said Van Voorhis. “We’re really trying to get people up and out of poverty, as well as of getting them housed as quickly as possible.”
After months of site changes and opposition, Denver’s first sanctioned camp site is almost complete.
“We’re just thankful for everyone’s support,” she said. “We know it’s been a long haul, so were very appreciative.”
Next week, Van Voorhis says organizers will begin work on a second safe outdoor space at nearby Denver Community Church. That site will house unhoused men, women and couples.