By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – From the outside the Saint Francis Warren Residences still look like the historic church that has sat on the corner of 14th and Gilpin Street for decades. Inside, the sanctuary has been converted into a community kitchen with dorm-style rooms offering 48 transitional housing units for folks experiencing homelessness.

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“What we’re really trying to do is bring a safe space to people. A church in and of itself can be a sacred space,” said Katie Symons, a supportive housing consultant that has worked on the Warren Residences project for 4 years. “48 units are not going to solve the entire problem but, Denver and the surrounding communities are doing whatever they can to solve the issue.”

30 people have already moved into the Warren residences. They pay 30% of their income in rent and can stay as long as they need. It’s the beginning of a five-project pipeline the city is helping fund to get more housing units for people experiencing homelessness.

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“We have several varieties of supportive housing. When you look at a place like this, it’s really focused on that communal and privacy aspect. We have another project that recently broke ground called Valor on the Fax and it has traumatic brain injury households being served,” said Britta Fisher, the Chief Housing Officer for the City and County of Denver.

“We have five different projects that provide these 299 units of supportive housing. that’s housing with the wrap around supports to help people maintain their housing.”

The city is already using money raised from the voter approved Homelessness Resolution Fund tax.

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“The solution to homelessness is always based in housing. We need projects like Warren Residences in order to have housing for people who were formerly experiencing homelessness in order to exit and maintain housing here in the Denver community,” Fisher said.

“We know that it saves the city money to actually house people instead of keep cycling them through systems. Being on the streets, being in shelters, going to detox, emergency rooms and jails,” Symons said. “We can solve this problem by providing housing and supportive services for people who need them.”

Jeff Todd