Denver plans February campaign to place homeless

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The City and County of Denver gave 576 sets of house keys to people experiencing homelessness in the past 100 days.

Denver plans another “housing surge,” as city officials call it, to help the homeless in February when the weather typically is cold and snowy.

“Just over 100 days ago, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the Department of Housing Stability (HOST) launched an effort to get 200 people experiencing homelessness housed in 100 days,” the city announced Wednesday in a news release.

“The housing surge concluded earlier this month with a total of 340 households, including 576 individuals, placed into housing.”

Although the emergency shelter at The Denver Coliseum closed during that time, the city still shuffled many people into housing.

Derek Woodbury of HOST said that after the coliseum site stopped providing shelter, the city moved people to other 24/7 shelter programs or protective action hotel rooms. Using hotel rooms helps protect older people and those with underlying health conditions who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Shelter network has ‘hundreds of empty beds’

“Through our recent housing surge effort, over 500 individuals have keys to their own home and are housed,” Woodbury added.

“All the while, Denver’s sheltering network has hundreds of empty beds available and stands ready to assist individuals seeking shelter.”

Hancock said the city plans to add more housing help.

“It’s clear that the housing surge has been a resounding success for the hundreds of people who traded tents and shelters for house keys,” Hancock said in a statement.

“We will continue to innovate new ways to provide housing and support for every resident in our city, as we improve and expand these efforts in future initiatives.”

Sabrina Allie, who works for HOST, said the surge placed some former coliseum occupants. Not everyone had an underlying health condition or age entitlement that qualified them for other programs.

“In fact, the very last guest to leave was placed in an apartment through the surge efforts,” Allie said of the coliseum, which sheltered 300 people when it closed.