Council Approves Safe Outdoor Space Expansion

Published on February 07, 2022

American Rescue Plan funding to support $3.9 million expansion of temporary managed campsites for persons experiencing homelessness

Denver City Council tonight approved a contract amendment with Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) to expand the city’s support of Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS) throughout 2022. An additional $3,900,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding was approved, to support the operations of at least four temporary managed campsites for persons experiencing homelessness.

“Safe Outdoor Spaces play an important role in fostering stability among individuals facing homelessness by connecting them to supports and services,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “As our pandemic recovery moves forward, this investment is critical in helping our unhoused neighbors regain stability in a safe, managed and supportive environment.”

SOS sites provide an alternative to traditional congregate shelter facilities. Guests have their own heated tents with access to bathrooms, food and other services. SOS sites have traditionally helped serve people who were uninterested in congregate shelter by offering more privacy, allowing people to stay together as couples, and allowing guests to shelter with their pets. Supportive staffing includes case management, housing referral and navigation, employment referrals, group therapy services, and mental health and tele-health services with an emphasis on trauma-informed and harm reduction practices. 

“We’re delivering on our promise to expand pathways from unsheltered homelessness to stability,” said HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher. “Safe Outdoor Spaces have clearly emerged as a harm reduction approach that meets people where there’re at, providing services that reduce the harms of unsheltered homelessness.”

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability initially contracted with CVC to support the initiative in early 2021 following a Request for Proposals. Existing sites are currently established at Regis University at 5085 N. Federal, Denver Health at 780 Elati St., and the Denver Human Services East Office at 3815 Steele St. Two sites were previously open in Capitol Hill, plus one site in Park Hill.

The contract supports amenities and services that provide outdoor accommodation for 310 households, comprised of approximately 370 individuals. The program helped transition 47 people into more stable housing in 2021, and an estimated 90 housing placements are targeted for 2022.

Denver’s long-range plan for recovery includes direct distribution of $308 million in ARPA Local Relief Funds. To date, Denver has received and allocated $154 million in ARPA funds to support city, community and business recovery efforts. Denver solicited and received feedback from over 6,200 residents, Denver City Council, city agencies, the Mayor’s Stimulus Advisory Committee, and the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Council between May and September 2021 to inform the use of the city’s first round of ARPA funds. The remaining $154 million is expected to be delivered to Denver in the third quarter of 2022. Federal law requires distribution of the funds by 2026.