The Denver Department of Housing Stability is seeking proposals from landowners and service providers interested in helping the city set up temporary, licensed camping sites for homeless people during the COVID-19 emergency.
For nearly four months, roadblocks and community backlash hampered efforts by city leaders to establish city-sanctioned campsites, or “safe outdoor spaces,” after the pandemic drove Mayor Michael Hancock to approve them in July.
The sites, open and managed 24 hours a day, are designed as alternatives to the city’s traditional shelters, which can serve as Petri dishes for contagious diseases, including COVID-19. The camps will also accommodate couples and pets, both of which are not allowed under Denver shelter rules, keeping many people on the streets.
The Colorado Village Collaborative will operate at least one of the campsites, CVC director Cole Chandler told Colorado Politics on Thursday, and possibly more. The CVC has secured approximately $ 300,000 from private donors for the first site, which will cover start-up costs, plus six months of operations, including 24-hour staff and provision of tents.
The remaining campsites will be funded by HOST and managed either by CVC if selected in the tender process, or by other service providers whose proposals top the list.
HOST is looking for submissions that cover the management of “and / or other innovative approaches to temporary emergency accommodation,” the housing department said on Thursday. in its request for sanctioned camping proposals. The submissions are also expected to cover campground services until the end of 2021, with possible extensions.
Hancock had initially offered to create up to three sites, but Britta Fisher, a housing manager in Denver, said plans have evolved to potentially include more.
âWhen the mayor talked about having multiple sites, it became clear that we needed to research multiple partners and multiple locations,â Fisher said in a telephone interview. The number, however, depends on what is on offer.
âWe are open to seeing how our dollars could be exploited,â she said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Fisher said no proposals had been received or decisions made.
HOST seeks responses from service providers who have experience serving homeless people “in outdoor environments in a trauma-informed and person-centered manner.”
The agency is also looking for one or more proposals from service providers seeking to provide managed support on sites owned or controlled by the city, “and / or on private sites where the applicant has demonstrable access to the site for operations and Services”.
Interested parties are invited to submit their proposal online. Proposals will be accepted until 3 p.m. on November 13. A virtual pre-submission conference will take place at 9 a.m. on November 3.
Two milestones this month have helped pave the way for the RFP process, Fisher said. Denver City Council approved the transfer of $ 450,000 from the city’s general fund to its COVID-19 emergency fund to support campsites and, a week later, approved a temporary zoning change that frees up about 21 % of city land under “old” Old Chapter 59 zoning code for emergency uses ie safe outdoor spaces.
âThis is all marked progress towards this tender with more sites and funds available for review,â Fisher said.
Denver City Councilor Candi CdeBaca said in a statement she suspected the first campsite would be located in her district, which includes the neighborhoods of Five Points, Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
“The city has not contacted my office regarding its potential location in the district, nor has it involved us in the discussions leading to the publication of this tender,” she said Thursday. âI support the SOS concept and believe transparency is essential for a pilot like this to be successful. I also believe that all districts, not just our district, must share the burden of the city’s housing and homelessness crisis – this cannot be one district alone carrying this city-wide challenge. “
The Hancock administration offered two different campsites – the Denver Coliseum parking lot and a small strip of right-of-way between Sonny Lawson Park and the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library – both located in the CdeBaca district. Both sites were taken down shortly after community opposition.
The earliest decisions will be made regarding the tendering process will be in December, Fisher said.
âBut remember, this is for our proposal funding,â she said. “This does not prevent any partner who has funding or has sites from suing those.”