Jul 18, 2023 - News

Mike Johnston issues emergency declaration for homelessness in Denver

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Mayor Mike Johnston signed an emergency declaration Tuesday to shelter at least 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Denver by the end of the year.

Details: The plan calls on using hotels for shelters, providing rental units, finding sites where the city can open tiny home villages, and expediting permitting and construction for affordable housing projects.

  • The emergency operations center will be activated for the homelessness declaration starting July 24 to coordinate the response.

Why it matters: The declaration will help Denver access state and federal money for homelessness — though he didn't specify how much money the city will be requesting.

State of play: This marks the first time Denver has issued such a declaration for homelessness, emergency management director Matthew Mueller tells us.

By the numbers: Johnston estimated there are roughly 1,400 unsheltered people in Denver.

  • The city has identified 197 potential sites to host micro-communities for housing.

Zoom out: Cities like Portland and Los Angeles have issued similar declarations — with few results.

  • Neither city has seen a significant improvement with Portland extending its emergency status at least five times since first enacting it in 2015.
  • Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said the city has cut red tape toward building housing after extending its declaration last week after it was first issued in December.

Of note: It's not clear how much the entire effort will cost Denver.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more