Denver provides 200 lockers for people experiencing homelessness at Minoru Yasui Plaza

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Denver’s new storage locker program at 303 West Colfax Avenue, Feb. 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

People experiencing homelessness have 200 more places to store their belongings in Denver thanks to a court settlement.

The 200 lockers were made available starting Wednesday at Minoru Yasui Plaza, a municipal building at 303 West Colfax Ave., according to Heather Grady of Denver’s housing department. Grady said the lockers were made available under a Sep. 23, 2019 settlement of a class action lawsuit filed by people experiencing homelessness.

The plaintiffs in the federal suit had challenged the way city employees handled their belongings during a series of street clean-ups in 2016.  The settlement’s provisions included requiring the city to give written notice seven days before embarking on a “large-scale” clearance of belongings and two days before removing unattended items from public places such as parks. In addition, each of the six lead plaintiffs received $5,000 under the settlement.

Kat Gorrie, facility manager for Denver's new storage program at 303 West Colfax Avenue, opens one of the recently installed lockers. Feb. 28, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

People experiencing homelessness often struggle to keep their belongings secure when, for example, they are at work . Some of the city’s shelters and drop-in centers that support people experiencing homelessness have started to provide lockers.

Grady said the lockers at Minoru Yasui Plaza will be operated by peer navigators through St. Francis Center.

Tom Luehrs, director of the St. Francis Center, said his nonprofit has for decades had shelves in locked rooms where people can store personal belongings at its drop-in center at 2323 Curtis Street and its employment center at 1630 E 14th Ave. With the lockers at Minoru Yasui Plaza, Luehrs said St. Francis now has places for close to 1,000 people to store belongings.

The Minoru Yasui Plaza lockers will be accessible weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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