Updates with City Council members being briefed on the plans.
The Colorado Health Foundation and three business groups are joining the Anschutz Foundation in helping Denver fund housing vouchers and shelters for people who are experiencing homelessness.
And in addition to its $1 million contribution announced Friday, the foundation is offering to match up to $500,000 in donations from the general public. It’s a chance for ordinary people to act in the wake of the attention drawn to homelessness by the failed ballot initiative to end Denver’s camping ban. Contributions can be made at denvergov.org/housing and are being coordinated by Mile High United Way, which hosted Friday’s news conference.
Individuals may donate online or by sending a check to Mile High United Way at 711 Park Ave. W., Denver, CO 80205. Checks should be made out to Mile High United Way and note they are for the Housing and Homeless Services Fund.
The Downtown Denver Partnership led an effort that resulted in another $1 million in total from the partnership, the Associated General Contractors of Colorado; and convention and visitors bureau VISIT DENVER. Tami Door, president and CEO of the partnership, said the contribution was the result of months of organizing and ongoing collaboration between business and homelessness service providers in Denver.
“The providers and the business community have consistently been aligned about finding solutions and working together,” Door said.
Her organization opposed and voters earlier this month soundly defeated Initiative 300, the anti-camping ban measure. Service providers had criticized 300’s opponents for spending so much to defeat it. Friday, several of those providers joined Door, Mayor Michael Hancock and city staff to announce the voucher and shelter funding.
Hancock had announced in April that $15.7 million of city, business and philanthropic money will be spent to support people who are experiencing homelessness, and said then the first $1 million beyond the city’s $11.2 million share was from the Anschutz Foundation. A third of the $15.7 million is to provide 400 vouchers to move people into temporary housing while case managers work to find them permanent homes. The rest is to improve shelter conditions and to provide day shelters where, the mayor said Friday, people can find restrooms, clean water and “respite from the streets.”
City Council’s housing committee received a June 12 briefing on the plans from Britta Fisher, who is chief housing officer in the Denver Economic Development and Opportunity department, and Chris Conner, head of the city’s homelessness services agency. Fisher will head the new housing department, expected to be in place next year.
Conner told council members that proposals for day shelters and shelter improvements were being reviewed. Having 24/7 shelter services can help people move toward permanent housing, Conner said. It would, for example, provide a place for people to store belongings while they work or search for housing.
The business- and lobbyist-led organization Together Denver spent more than $2 million to campaign against 300, according to the report it filed with the city’s elections division just before the vote. Major contributors included the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Associated General Contractors of Colorado and VISIT DENVER.