Safe Outdoor Spaces

People walking on a sidewalk by insulated tents and flowersSafe Outdoor Spaces and Safe Parking Areas connect individuals experiencing homelessness who might otherwise fall through the cracks between traditional shelter and housing with lifesaving shelter, services and support, and have shown to help people transition into long-term housing. These flexible and temporary sites can be set up quickly in times of emergency and disasters. On June 5, Denver City Council voted to ensure Safe Outdoor Spaces can continue to meet a critical temporary housing need beyond December 2023.

About Safe Outdoor Spaces

What does a Safe Outdoor Space offer?

Safe Outdoor Spaces are also known as managed campsites. They offer 24/7 staffing and supervision and ensure that people have access to sanitation and a safe, personal place to sleep off the streets. They primarily serve people for whom traditional congregate shelters are not an option, such as couples, people with pets, and people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.

These sites do not operate on a walk-up basis. Residents in need are identified by professional outreach teams, and those teams assist them through their stay at the SOS site. While it can be difficult for outreach workers to consistently connect with people experiencing homelessness who are living on streets, at a Safe Outdoor Space, workers can more easily provide critical services, such as conflict mediation and de-escalation, meals, case management services, and housing and job search assistance. As a result, these sites have shown to be an effective tool for helping people get stable and move into long-term housing.

Person smiling in front of insulated tents Safe Outdoor Spaces and safe parking sites have operated at eight locations across Denver, providing critical shelter to over 515 people, who would have otherwise been sleeping on our streets. The stability of these spaces have helped people obtain and keep jobs, and over 180 people have already moved into more permanent housing.

Who manages these spaces?

Denver’s primary partner in administering Safe Outdoor Spaces is Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC), a nonprofit organization with the mission of bridging the gap between the streets and stable housing by creating and operating transformational housing communities in partnership with people experiencing homelessness. 

Each quarter, Denver's Department of Housing Stability completes monitoring and compliance site visits to ensure program operations and outcomes are being met.

Learn more about how residents are selected and what sites offer >>

Read about the St. Francis Center's Safe Outdoor Space >>

About Zoning Regulations

After testing these sites during the pandemic and seeing their ability to successfully meet a need for unhoused residents in Denver, the city updated the section of the zoning code that governs temporary tiny home villages to include Safe Outdoor Spaces, as these “Temporary Managed Communities” all operate similarly. The new rules in Section 11.11.17 will be effective when the zoning code is republished on July 5, 2023. 

This zoning code update was sponsored by Councilmembers Robin Kniech and Chris Hinds and was a partnership between the Departments of Community Planning and Development and Housing Stability. 

One of Many Strategies

Safe Outdoor Spaces are just one strategy the city uses to help individuals experiencing homelessness. The city supports these on-the-ground measures while also continuing to invest in additional sheltering and longer-term housing options:

  • Over 1,200 affordable units (income-restricted) receiving city financing are currently under construction at 26 sites across Denver, with over 500 more in the planning stage.
  • Since July 2011, Denver has created over 8,700 new affordable homes.

Learn more about the work of Denver's Department of Housing Stability to build a healthy, housed, and connected Denver >>