We received lots of feedback about Wednesday’s Town Hall. Some may have missed the Town Hall. Even those who attended may have received “information overload” at the beginning when I listed quite a bit of information. I thought I’d reiterate it here. Enjoy!

D10 Homelessness Response Virtual Town Hall Agenda/Notes
ZOOM Webinar

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | 5-7 PM

Going to get started shortly [5:00]

Welcome and thank you [5:05]

  • Chris Hinds, Denver City Councilperson, District 10 – Colfax, Colorado, and Speer with the additional areas of Uptown and Belcaro
  • We are here to talk about homelessness, particularly around Morey middle school. I know this is a huge, complicated topic, and so we’ll take a few minutes at the beginning to recognize that this issue is far beyond Morey. However, we want to set this meeting up for success, so we’ll be directing the bulk of our energy to topics that can directly affect the area immediately around Morey.
  • We put this town hall together in just over a week, and it is clear that this is an important topic for discussion. We have hundreds of people who have registered for this meeting – and we just posted the invitation on Friday. We have had more than two dozen community service providers offer their expertise, too. We have had DPS Board members and staff interested in participating. We only have 2 hours tonight, and we won’t have the opportunity to hear from all of them. So, I’ll ask now: would you be interested in making this a series of webinars, the next one focusing on Denver Public Schools and the following one focusing on community provider solutions? Please email District10@denvergov.org with your thoughts, and if you feel it is important, we’ll work to get the DPS meeting set up in the next week or two depending on their schedules.
  • To set expectations, homelessness wasn’t created in a day, and it won’t be solved today. We plan to talk about the camping ban. We plan to talk about Safe Open Spaces – also known as designated, sanctioned campsites. We plan to talk about how the city has addressed homelessness and how COVID has changed that approach. And, perhaps most importantly for this conversation, we plan to talk about specific options for residents around Morey – both in tents and in homes.

List of tonight’s panelists

City participants:

  • Mayor’s Office – Evan Dreyer
  • Housing stability – Chris Conner
  • Denver Department of Public Health and Environment – ED Bob McDonald
  • Denver Police Department – Deputy Chief Ron Thomas, D6 Commander Aaron Sanchez, Lt. Sean Faris, Sgt. David Albi, CRO Austen Munson
  • Denver Fire Department – Chief Manuel Almaguer
  • Department of Transportation and Infrastructure – Legislative Liaison Jason Gallardo
  • City Attorney’s Office – Marley Bordovsky
  • Councilman Hinds (and staff)

Denver Public Schools participants:

  • Hillary Niebauer – Principal of MMS
  • Trena Marsal – ED of Facilities at MMS
  • Chris Woodburn

Community Groups:

  • CHUN President – Travis Leiker
  • Network Coffee House – Ryan Taylor
  • Harm Reduction Action Center – Lisa Raville
  • Denver Urban Gardens lead gardener at MMS – Gigia Kolouch
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless – Cathy Alderman
  • Mental Health Centers of Denver – Jeannie Ritter, Heidi Eastman, Elizabeth Everett
  • The Delores Project – Robin Wood-Mason
  • Metro Denver Homeless Initiative – Jamie Rife
  • St. Francis Center – Tom Luehrs
  • Denver Homeless Out Loud – Terese Howard
  • A few of the residents directly near MMS in tents
  • A few of the neighbors directly near MMS in homes

Meeting expectations

  • This is an incredibly emotional issue for all residents, those living in tents and those living in houses. It’s also emotional for those whose children are enrolled at Morey, for the DPS staff, and for the students themselves. Please understand and respect that we are all people and that we should be respectful of one another.
  • Let’s do our best to find solutions that work for everyone.
  • For panelists, use the “raise hand” button when you want to join in. Also, please announce your name and organization before you begin speaking every time.
  • For attendees, please send questions through the Q&A chat function. If you have a question for a specific panelist, please identify who you would like to answer the question. We are also monitoring Facebook Live as this is also being broadcast on Facebook – https://www.Facebook.com/DenverPerfect10

Setting the stage for tonight’s discussion

  • I’m almost done talking, honest! We’ll hear more from our many panelists very soon.
  • As I mentioned at the beginning, there are some issues that are outside our control in Denver. Homelessness is a national and international issue. Here are some examples of what we cannot control:
    • Housing affordability nationwide continues to rise – pre COVID
    • Lack of housing stock nationwide – again pre COVID
    • Lack of a living wage nationwide – again pre COVID
    • The nationwide defunding of –
      • Addiction services
      • Mental health treatment
      • Social workers (my mom was a social worker for decades)
      • The lack of a nationwide, coordinated response to housing or at least shelter services
  • In addition, COVID has created a huge curve ball to the problem and our response
    • Centers for Disease Control guidance on cleaning encampments
    • Jail population reductions to limit COVID outbreaks
    • Voluntary shelters nationwide have experienced COVID outbreaks
    • COVID has significantly increased unemployment, and we’re doing what we can in Denver to prevent those folks from becoming homeless, too
    • Our statewide eviction moratorium has expired, again potentially adding to our population of people experiencing homelessness
  • I also want to help all of you be efficient and effective when you have concerns
    • For example, the legislative branch makes legislation. If you believe a law should be changed, created, or removed, my office is definitely the right place for you to contact.
    • The executive branch executes that legislation. If you believe the execution of our laws is good or needs improvement, we have a few people here tonight who will speak who are experts at ensuring Denver follows the laws we have in our city.
    • As we will likely hear tonight, there are also state and national laws, and those laws supersede our laws in most cases.
  • And now, let’s lay the groundwork for the Morey conversation:
    • There are about 100 or 120 people living in tents next to Morey
    • Many were living next to St. John’s and moved to Morey when the Cathedral was cleaned by the city on May 20th.
    • Most of our panelists have personally visited Morey, I know I’ve generally visited Morey multiple times a week since May including the St. John’s cleanup
    • We’ve heard from our housed neighbors that they don’t feel safe
    • We’ve heard from all of our neighbors that there isn’t sufficient access to bathrooms, sanitation, water, services, and power charging for devices for camp residents
    • We’ve heard from DPS staff, elected officials, and parents that we need a plan to ensure safety for when students return soon
    • We’ve heard from our many community partners that they are willing, able, and interested in helping wherever they can

Ok, I’m done! Let’s start the conversation by hearing from some of our panelists.