By Shawna Khalafi

(CBS4) – Denver’s Department of Housing Stability has put together a a draft version of its 2022 action plan to address homelessness in the city.

A public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss the plan, as well as the Affordable Housing Fund Ordinance.

(credit: CBS)

The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative’s count for 2021 showed a 40% increase in the number of people staying in emergency shelter on a single night, and the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time doubled since the 2020 count.

Brad Meuli, the President/CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission, said their shelters are currently near capacity, which is concerning because the cold winter weather still hasn’t arrived in Denver, so they’re anticipating even more demand for their services in the coming months.

“When you drive around downtown, you can’t help but notice the number of tents that are out there,” Meuli said. “And Civic Center Park was closed, and there’s still tenting that’s going on. We’re doing everything we can I think as a city to try to encourage people to come inside of a facility, to try to connect to services.”

Meuli said while affordable housing is a crucial need in Denver, services and continued support are even more important for ending the cycle of homelessness.

“Housing’s important, and then we need to come alongside of them with services to help them with whatever they’re struggling with,” Meuli said. “Could be mental health issues; it could be alcohol and drug addiction, but how do you come alongside of these folks to be able to help them?”

Shawna Khalafi