2. Denver mayor explains his evolution on campsites
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was initially reluctant to embrace temporary city-sanctioned campsites for people experiencing homelessness, but now he’s trying to understand if they could work permanently.
What’s happening: With city council approval, the administration extended the Colorado Village Collaborative’s (CVC) contract through the end of 2021, giving the nonprofit nearly $900,000 to run two local camping sites for residents in need, one of which is still in the works.
- Interfaith Alliance of Colorado operates a third campground.
What they’re saying: The concept "makes a lot of sense," Hancock told Axios, and the campsites are "phenomenally managed."
Why it matters: Denver voters overwhelmingly upheld the city’s urban camping ban in 2019, but so far city officials say there has been very little criticism of the sanctioned sites.
The bottom line: Early data show that "Safe Outdoor Spaces" are working, says CVC executive director Cole Chandler.
- Not a single resident at his group's campground over the last two months has tested positive for COVID-19 (screenings are done daily), achieving the initiative's primary goal.
- Service providers have been able to connect dozens of people to case management services, long-term housing opportunities and health care.
Yes, but: Hancock won’t make any major policy changes unless he’s convinced this pilot "really has a high efficacy," and he'll "need to see at least three" sites to know.
What’s next: The mayor says he's interested in expanding CVC's tiny homes program, into which at least five campsite residents have already advanced.
- And Chandler predicts "Safe Parking Sites" — a sanctioned spot to sleep in your car — could roll out next in Denver. It’s an idea that has gotten traction in the metro area and taken off along the West Coast.