Mike Johnston just pledged to end unsheltered veteran homelessness in 2024

There are currently 52 unsheltered veterans experiencing homelessness in Denver.
2 min. read
Jamie Rife, head of the Department of Housing Stability, and Mayor Mike Johnston stand outside at a press conference to announce the city's plans to end unsheltered veteran homelessness.
Dr. Jamie Rife and Mayor Mike Johnston announce the city’s plan to end unsheltered veteran homelessness by the end of 2024, June 3, 2024.
Kyle Harris / Denverite

Mayor Mike Johnston announced Monday that his administration will end unsheltered veteran homelessness by the end of 2024.

"The first step to ending unsheltered homelessness for everyone is ending unsheltered homelessness for veterans," said Johnston, who campaigned with a promise to end homelessness in his first four years in office.

He announced this latest effort in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Denver Housing Authority, Volunteers of America Colorado, Community Solutions, and the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.

"People who have served our country, have risked their lives and limbs often come back and have a hard time finding their way," Johnston said. "And one of the most significant ways that they struggle is getting access to housing."

How many unsheltered veterans are there?

There are currently 52 unsheltered veterans experiencing homelessness in Denver, according to the city's data.

The city has been tracking the number of unhoused veterans with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Johnston said he sees 52 as a manageable number of people to bring inside and put on the pathway to housing.

Of those, 30 percent are already in the process of searching for housing.

Another 230 veterans are experiencing homelessness but living in shelter, according to Jamie Rife, the head of the Department of Housing Stability.

House1000 and All in Mile High, the efforts to bring 2,000 people indoors by the end of the year, laid the groundwork for the veteran-specific work, Johnston said.

"As the numbers on the streets have gotten smaller and smaller, it's easier for us to focus more and more closely on those remaining who are still veterans," he said.

How will it work?

The goal is to reach a state Johnston calls "functional zero."

"Functional Zero means there are more exits for veterans who are unsheltered into housing each month than there are folks that are currently experiencing homelessness are entering it," he said.

The first step will be to bring unsheltered veterans inside to stable shelter. After they are indoors, they will be given high-quality case management.

The Denver Housing Authority has found ways to expedite housing for veterans,

If all goes as planned, "We will be the largest American city to make sure that no veteran who served this country sleeps outside on the streets," Johnston said.

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