Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) are a high-priority issue for you, judging by the hundreds of emails my office has answered in the last several weeks. Now that both sites are open, we’ve got an update on how things are going.
In case you missed it, our December homelessness update tours the first of the SOS sites to open.
Since that blog was published, the second SOS site opened at Denver Community Church (DCC), located at 16th and Pearl. We spoke with Cole Chandler of Colorado Village Collaborative, the organization managing that site, to address your concerns and share early successes.
Second SOS reduces unsanctioned camping, connects people to wraparound services
All 30 tents at the DCC site were filled within hours of the SOS site opening. The site welcomed 39 people, two dogs, and one cat. All 39 participants came from the two blocks surrounding the SOS. All but seven participants came from the unsanctioned camp directly across the street.
As of Monday morning, the City was onsite cleaning up the unsanctioned site across from the SOS. A handful of folks remained at the site. While that’s a 90% reduction in people camping at that location, unsanctioned camping won’t disappear now that SOS sites are open. Both existing sites are already full, so additional people will likely just relocate to other areas.
I believe that housing is a human right, and we need more housing options with wraparound services to end unsanctioned camping. Sweeps, clean-ups, enforcement actions, whatever you call them only move the problem down the street. SOS sites are actively reducing the issue.
“Outreach workers never go into an [unsanctioned] encampment and get 60% of the camp into services in one day. That is completely unheard of. And that’s what the SOS has done,” said Cole Chandler of Colorado Village Collaborative, the organization managing the 16th and Pearl SOS site. “If they were swept, not one of those people would’ve connected to wraparound services.”
Colorado Village Collaborative is working with a number of organizations to connect people with the services they need, including Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, St. Francis Center, Harm Reduction Action Center, Urban Peak, Dignity Project, and Network Coffee House.
Together, these organizations are conducting daily outreach at the 16th and Pearl SOS site to help residents access services like housing assistance, healthcare, and job placement. Volunteers are also fanning out across the two-block radius surrounding the SOS to clean up trash and engage with folks outside the SOS to help them find better housing options than unsanctioned camping.
Volunteer to be part of the solution
The SOS site at 16th and Pearl is providing hot meals to all residents. If you’re able to coordinate providing a meal for 40 people, please get involved in the Mealtrain that Colorado Village Collaborative has set up.
Volunteers are also needed in four-shifts to help with clean-up and food distribution. Sign up here>>
Good Neighbor meetings
The first monthly Good Neighbor meeting took place Dec. 22. The meeting reviewed the Good Neighbor Agreement for the 16th and Pearl location. A recorded version of the meeting will be shared on the Colorado Village Collaborative website.
SOS contact information
- In the event of an active crime or fire, please call 911.
- To report a crime that is not actively occurring, please call 720-913-2000
- For trash, noise, loitering, or other concerns please contact the 24/7 on site line at 303-317-7769 or Cole Chandler at 720-432-8285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach out to my office with any additional questions and concerns. Be the first to receive these updates by signing up for my newsletter.