Sep 12, 2023 - News

Mayor Mike Johnston puts price tag on his plan to reduce homelessness

A downtown Denver homeless encampment before a city-sanctioned sweep in August. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Mayor Mike Johnston on Tuesday said his plan to shelter 1,000 unhoused people this year will cost Denver $48.6 million.

Why it matters: The public now has a clearer picture of how much taxpayer money will be required for Johnston's ambitious plan targeting homelessness, which has been growing in Denver.

State of play: The mayor said during a press briefing the city can pay for the project without cutting back key services and still provide enough resources to fulfill his plan.

By the numbers: The highest costs in the estimate include $19.6 million to build and operate micro-communities, like pallet shelters and tiny homes. Other costs include:

  • $18.9 million to buy and run the 194-unit former Best Western Central Park hotel
  • $5.4 million for leases and operations at additional hotels
  • $4 million for rentable units
  • $750,000 for encampment response, including outreach and services like temporary portable bathrooms

Of note: $37 million will come from the city's Department of Housing Stability budget, while $15 million will come from other sources.

  • These include General Fund transfers ($8 million) that supported the city's pandemic response, federal pandemic aid money ($4.7 million) and capital improvement money from real estate purchase costs that came in under budget ($2 million).

Between the lines: Johnston said the combined amount from the two major funding sources is greater than the initial estimate to add some wiggle room for unexpected or additional costs.

Go deeper: Denver's unhoused population says they want permanent solutions


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