Aug 17, 2023 - News

Denver opens bidding process to run micro-communities

The Beloved Community Village for formerly homeless people in 2019. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said Wednesday his administration has started a bidding process for agencies to operate micro-communities for people experiencing homelessness.

Why it matters: It's another step toward Johnston's goal of securing shelter for 1,000 unhoused people by the end of the year.

Details: Cole Chandler, the mayor's senior adviser for homelessness, said the city wants organizations that will provide site operation and services at micro-communities, which can include tiny home villages and safe outdoor camping sites.

By the numbers: Chandler said the request for proposals will involve between seven and 10 sites, though he tells us that number could potentially increase depending on need.

  • Those sites each would host between 40 and 100 people.
  • Johnston said the RFPs are structured for smaller, local community-based nonprofits.

Yes, but: Chandler said agencies outside Denver and the state will be eligible to bid.

What they're saying: "We know that it's going to take a whole ecosystem of service providers to really scale this effort," Chandler said Wednesday.

  • Neither Johnston nor Chandler provided cost estimates for potential contracts.

The intrigue: Johnston said the city is still working to narrow down a list of 197 potential sites to house the micro-communities and is looking at both public and private properties.

  • The preliminary sites are concentrated on historically underserved areas, though Chandler tells us the city's goal is to spread them across the city.

Of note: The mayor's administration has expanded trash pickup and provided bathrooms for people experiencing homelessness, two steps Johnston said are working to connect people to housing.

  • Johnston said more than 26 people living in encampments have sought out additional services, including one person who had never had housing as an adult, and a pregnant woman who got a room in a hotel.
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