Park Hill United Methodist Church building

April Homelessness update

While unsanctioned camping continues to be the number one constituent concern the District 10 office receives, recent announcements like the relocation of the Uptown SOS and the EIT protocol may result in changes for housed and unhoused neighbors in our community.

Contract updates from City Council

In April 2020, Denver received more than $126 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF). The CRF was established as part of the federal CARES Act in 2020. It provides funding to State, Local, and Tribal governments to help residents affected by COVID-19. In April 2020, Denver created a plan to spend it in phases, beginning with the most urgent community needs. These needs include public health and food help, emergency shelter, and small business support.

View the City and County of Denver’s new CRF dashboard to learn how that Federal grant money has been spent. Visit Denver’s guidance and resources website to learn about all the city’s recovery efforts, including other, non-Federal sources of funding.

As of March 31, 2021, the City has spent $56,482,260 on shelter services and supplies including leases, food service, medical service, staffing, cleaning/laundry service, furniture, handwashing stations, showers, toilets, and additional supplies.

The City Council Safety Committee regularly reviews Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) contracts from the Department of Housing Stability (HOST) that provide leadership, policies, and programs to preserve and expand safe and affordable housing opportunities and promote strong communities. At the last March 2021 Safety Committee meeting, Council members forwarded nine contracts totaling $18M for housing programs that address homelessness and housing insecurity. Earlier in March, the Committee approved an additional $7.1M in contracts with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and St. Francis Center for bridge housing and supportive services for highly vulnerable households and rapid resolution and shelter program services for people experiencing homelessness citywide. The Committee has approved 21 NOFA contracts since August. These contracts fund 2021 housing opportunity, housing stability, and homelessness resolution programs using federal and local funds.

SOS updates

Although we received more than 1000 emails in opposition to Safe Outdoor Spaces before they opened in District 10, I promised that they’d be beneficial for our neighborhoods. Since then, we’ve received only positive feedback for the SOS sites now that they’ve been in operation.

One of the promises made is that the SOS sites would be temporary, and this is another promise that will be kept. The District 10 office was recently notified that the Safe Outdoor Space located at 16th & Pearl will be relocated to the Park Hill United Methodist Church once the time has expired on the Uptown site. The new location will be operated by Colorado Village Collaborative and will provide more space for individuals experiencing homelessness. The Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) said the Park Hill site would include 45 individualized shelters with capacity to serve 50 people including singles, couples, pets, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. Residents at the Uptown location will be able to relocate, and an additional 15 spaces will be offered to residents of the 14th & Grant SOS operated by Earthlinks. CVC has created two informational videos about Safe Outdoor Spaces to help re-orient folks to the concept and provide a little deeper dive into the positive impact this model can have on housed and unhoused neighbors.

Unsanctioned camping & the Early Intervention Team (EIT)

Unsanctioned camping continues to be the number one constituent concern the District 10 office receives. While camping has been prevalent on the northwest side of the district for the last year, neighbors further east are now seeing an increase in camping taking place in the public right of way. Please know that we do our best to understand where our unhoused neighbors are so we can provide city-, nonprofit-, and faith-led services to those locations.

Here are the general areas where we know encampments are currently located in District 10:

[Specific locations removed]

Early Intervention Team program summary

If you haven’t already read, the City of Denver is de-prioritizing police response to our unhoused neighbors living in our city. Instead, the new team that is dispatched includes human service workers, firefighters, and, if absolutely necessary, police. This section shares a bit more about the Early Intervention Team, its history, and how it is designed to be a better solution for Denver.

  • The EIT was established in October 2020, by a mayoral directive to EDOS Murphy Robinson to establish a team to mitigate the growing encampments of people experiencing homelessness in Denver.
  • The team was formed in partnership with Denver Human Services (DHS), Denver Fire Department (DFD), and the Denver Police Department (DPD).
  • The team pairs a DHS Resource Navigator with a DFD firefighter in an unmarked vehicle to conduct outreach engagement with community members in encampments throughout Denver primarily focused downtown.
  • EDOS Assistant Dep. Director Armando Saldate leads the EIT and coordinates responses.
  • DHS provides a coordinator/supervisor and a lead.
  • DPD Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) assigned their Night HOT Team (4 officers and 1 sergeant) Monday thru Thursday to respond to encampments with and in addition to EIT during the day.
  • EIT works normal City business hours, Monday through Friday.

EIT response protocol

Calls to 9-1-1 or police non-emergency dispatch that report crimes in progress like assaults, sale of narcotics or illegal drugs, robbery, etc. at encampments will be responded to by DPD. Fire calls and medical emergency calls at encampments will be responded to by the appropriate DFD and Denver Health paramedics personnel. Non-emergent encampment calls to 9-1-1 and police non-emergency dispatch are forwarded to 3-1-1. Callers with other camping complaints like trash and right of way encumbrance to other City departments are routed to 3-1-1.

All encampment calls that 3-1-1 takes that are not routed to DPD are sent to the EIT. The calls are triaged for response according to encampment characteristics: size, location (near schools, homes, daycare), hypodermic needles, rodent infestation, trash and excrement, etc. When there are reports of young people or children at the encampment, 3-1-1 routes the call to 9-1-1 for an immediate response.

The EIT responds and assesses the encampments that are the subjects of the calls. The EIT attempts engagement with each individual at the encampment to address any immediate crisis or emergency present, i.e., an urgent physical health need (frost bite, open wounds), mental health crisis, substance use disorder or extreme intoxication, fire hazards, extreme weather, and other immediate harms. The EIT provides the community member with resource navigation and assistance to shelter or other alternatives to living unsheltered in an urban encampment.

During extreme weather or forecast poor weather, the EIT partners with Denver Department of Housing Stability and Denver Street Outreach Collaborative to reach as many encampments as possible to offer emergency shelter for the unhoused community. This includes working weekends and extended hours if necessary.