This autumn is developing into a critical moment in Denver’s decades-long and largely lost battle against homelessness.
Why it matters: The city recorded a 21% increase in homelessness between 2018 and 2020, resulting in nearly 4,200 uninhabited residents – and experts expect an even steeper increase this year due to the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
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What’s up: This week the Denver Department of Housing Stability released a spending and policy proposal that could shape the city’s future.
The five-year proposal aims to achieve 14 goals by 2026, including ending veterans’ homelessness, reducing homelessness by 50%, and building and maintaining 7,000 homes.
The city council will vote on the proposal in November as part of the 2022 budget procedure.
Also in November: Denver voters will ponder a vote, backed by Denver GOP Chairman Garrett Flicker, that would give residents the power to sue the city if illegal campsites are not cleared within 72 hours of a complaint while the city is also urged , sanctioned campsites to build public land for people without housing.
A report released Thursday by the conservative-leaning Common Sense Institute found the city spends more than $ 434 million annually on homeless services.
That’s based on data gathered by Denver Health, the city police and fire departments, charities, and the city’s homeless tax fund voter, passed last November.
The group calculated that Denver agencies spend between $ 41,613 and $ 104,038 annually on each homeless person – at least twice as much as renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city for a year. The large margin reflects the lack of available numbers from several city agencies.
The other side: The city’s housing authority is questioning the accuracy of CSI reporting because it “duplicates” certain funding and “misrepresents charitable spending for the homeless to include their work in other areas,” spokesman Derek Woodbury told Axios.
The story goes on
What’s next: The Denver Housing Authority is seeking public opinion on its five-year plan by September 3, after which it will be finalized and presented to the city council.
The Common Sense Institute plans to determine which spending is having the greatest impact on reducing homelessness and making recommendations to city guides by early fall, said President and CEO Kristin Strohm.
The group also plans to release the first of its kind online data dashboard detailing the flow of resources and the current and future state of homelessness in the metropolitan area.
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