Denver announces $250M 5-year strategy to solve the city’s homelessness crisis

News & Politics

In the past 17 years, Denver has launched six plans and invested millions of dollars into addressing the city’s homelessness crisis. On Tuesday, the city council announced yet another plan, slated to cost $250 million.

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) detailed its latest five-year strategy to end the housing crisis, which includes creating 1,700 affordable homes, expanding pathways to homeownership, implementing encampment decommissioning strategies, investing in hotel options, serving more than 8,000 households with housing stability programs, and serving more than 2,500 households experiencing homelessness in rehousing and supportive housing programs.

According to HOST’s report, the department is approaching its latest initiative through an “equity lens to dismantle systemic racism” in the Denver metropolitan area. The strategy includes “a disparity study to document racial disparities and discrimination in housing in Denver and propose solutions that advance equity.”

To finance the $250 million+ project, HOST will rely on funding from several sources, including Denver’s General Fund, the Affordable Housing Fund, the Homelessness Resolution Fund, federal grants, and time-limited COVID response and recovery funds.

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HOST reportedly exceeded its previous goal of creating affordable housing primarily because of federal COVID relief funds. Approximately 35% of the new five-year plans total projected budget will be funded by COVID response and recovery funds.

“This plan does as much as we can with the level of resources that we have, which includes many federal funds and a lot of locally generated funds,” Denver Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher told KUSA. “We’re using more resources than ever to get people quickly back to housing and to housing stability as possible.”

A “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness” was launched in 2005 by city officials. A 2015 study conducted towards the end of the 10-year plan found that over 3,700 people in Denver were homeless.

According to the county’s latest point-in-time survey, from 2020 to 2022, Denver experienced a 15% increase in homelessness, with approximately 5,000 people currently without permanent housing.

Denver Homeless Out Loud organizer Benjamin Dunning told KUSA that he is skeptical that the city’s latest strategy will solve the housing crisis.

Dunning stated, “If they meet their current goals, homelessness and the cost of housing is going to continue to increase – and the situation is going to get worse because the need is so great.”

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