Denver launches partnership for alternative response to homeless encampments

Denver launched a partnership between 311 and the Early Intervention Team to provide an alternative response to calls and reports about homeless encampments.

Shared by the Office of Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. For information specific to this article, please email theresa.marchetta@denvergov.org.

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today, March 1, announced a new partnership between 311 and the Early Intervention Team to provide a more efficient, effective, and alternative response to non-criminal calls about homeless encampments.

“Our first priority is to connect our unhoused neighbors with safer, healthier, and more stable options than living on the streets,” Mayor Hancock said. “Over the past several months, we have significantly expanded our outreach and engagement efforts, most recently with the launch of the Early Intervention Team late last year. This new partnership between the EIT and 311 is another step towards delivering a non-law enforcement response to calls about people experiencing homelessness.”

Beginning today, people calling the city about encampments will be routed away from the Police Department and to Denver’s 311 operators so those concerns can be directed to the right departments sooner and city staff can better respond to them.

“We don’t need police officers being the first responders for routine calls about encampments,” Mayor Hancock said. “The goal will continue to be to connect our unhoused neighbors to shelter, housing, treatment, and care – that means a human services response and not a public safety response.”

The Early Intervention Team is the next step in the Hancock Administration’s efforts to implement alternative response policies, including deploying caseworkers alongside of, or instead of, armed and uniformed police officers with the co-responder program, which started in 2018, and the STAR pilot launched in June 2020.

In addition, Mayor Hancock’s administration is taking multiple steps to provide safer and healthier options for people experiencing homelessness, including:

  • Providing funding and other support for two safe outdoor space sanctioned campsites
  • Opening a 46-bed crisis stabilization center in the coming weeks
  • Opening a 450-bed shelter later this year
  • Investing more than $10 million in recent months to create 250 apartments for people exiting homelessness
  • Supporting emergency shelter and services in response to COVID-19, including 24/7 sheltering options and more than 800 hotel rooms for isolation