Aug 11, 2023 - News

Where Denver is considering putting micro-communities for the homeless

Potential locations for Denver micro-housing communities, by ZIP code
Data: Denver Mayor's Office; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

A preliminary list identifying potential sites for micro-communities for people experiencing homelessness in Denver is largely concentrated in historically underserved communities.

Why it matters: Creating micro-communities, like tiny home villages and safe outdoor camping sites, is a step toward Mayor Mike Johnston's plan to shelter 1,000 unhoused people by the end of the year.

The intrigue: The map showing the 197 eligible locations follows Denver's inverted L, referring to areas largely home to the city's Black and Latino residents.

  • It includes people living north of Interstate 70 and west of Interstate 25, and primarily consists of working-class neighborhoods.

Context: The list was put together by the mayor's homeless resolution team. A spreadsheet listing the sites says they have not yet been vetted and may no longer be vacant or for sale.

  • It was obtained by Axios Denver through an open records request.

Of note: The list will be "significantly" reduced based on several criteria, Johnston's spokesperson Jordan Fuja tells us.

  • Proximity to transit, access to utilities, meeting basic zoning and permitting criteria, and distance from schools are among the factors that will decide what sites move forward for consideration.

Flashback: Residents in Globeville, one of the neighborhoods with a large concentration of potential sites, organized in 2019 in opposition to a tiny home village, with people at the time saying they felt pressured to host it.

Zoom in: Cole Chandler, the mayor's senior adviser for homelessness, said during a Denver City Council meeting on Wednesday the sites under consideration for micro-communities won't require re-zoning to allow those communities to be built.

Between the lines: Councilmember Amanda Sawyer during the same meeting raised concerns about schools on the preliminary list, which she suggested may not be a fitting place to put the micro-community.

What's next: Johnston told council members during a public meeting on Monday that a revised list will likely be made public next week.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show the list of sites was put together by the mayor's homeless resolution team, not the city's real estate department.

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