This morning, representatives from the Beloved Community tiny home village signed papers making the RiNo site officially open for occupancy. After two months building the units — and a communal bathhouse — at 38th and Walnut Streets, formerly homeless residents will begin to settle into the tiny houses.
The occasion also marks the beginning of a 180-day temporary zoning permit for the village, after which the community will likely have to relocate to another site.
Nathan Hunt of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, one of the groups behind the effort, told Denverite that he was “thrilled” to sign papers at the Wellington Webb building this morning. He asked that residents be given a week or so to get comfortable before they address the press, but an opening ceremony is in the works in the near future.
As to the future of the site, Hunt said the six-month trial period is an opportunity to work with the city on ways a tiny home village could persist, ideally, permanently. Whatever form the village takes after the 180 days are up, Hunt said, organizers aren’t necessarily interested in keeping it at 38th and Walnut.
Andrea Burns, spokesperson for Denver Community Planning and Development, said a tiny home village like this is the “first of its kind” and thus has nothing like it in the city’s existing zoning code. She said the six-month window is an opportunity to learn what potential issues may be, from general maintenance to noise, parking, lighting and impact on neighbors.
The nonprofit behind the project, Colorado Village Collaborative, has said it hopes to start more such villages in the future. Earlier this year, the city specifically determined that “temporary homeless housing” is an appropriate use in C-MX-8 zones, or commercial mixed-use zones that allow buildings up to 8 floors.
City inspectors will check in on Beloved Community every few weeks and officials are in touch with the local neighborhood association to keep tabs, especially at during the village’s beginning stages.
One resident who had already begun the process (and asked not to be named this morning) seemed very pleased to have a roof and some space of her own.