Denver Used it as Covid Emergency Shelter for Women, Transgender People
Denver will put $2.75 million to transition a former motel from COVID-19 emergency sheltering to temporary living quarters for homeless women, transgender people, and those who identify as nonbinary.
The former Rodeway Inn at 4765 Federal Boulevard was purchased by the Denver Housing Authority in 2020 for about $10.95 million, according to city records, but the site will now be run by The Salvation Army. The former motel has 200 rooms, according to city documents.
Kristen Baluyot, the Denver Metro Social Services Director for The Salvation Army, told The Denver North Star the organization will house individuals or families for about 90 days, with the goal of moving them into more permanent living situations.
“The number of people experiencing homelessness in our community continues to grow, and we need somewhere to temporarily put in a safe location,” Baluyot said. “My hope is that as we are successful in placing people into permanent or stable housing that the need for sheltering will decrease, and then we will have funds to be able to put toward affordable housing.”
Baluyot said she expects The Salvation Army will have a contract extension by the end of next year. The current one only lasts through the end of 2022. People who qualify for the shelter program must also be self-sufficient and able to live independently.
Shelter operations were previously provided by Catholic Charities and The Gathering Place, according to city documents, and Baluyot said The Gathering Place is still providing 24-hour staffing.
“We provide the operational support, like housekeeping and maintenance and those sorts of things, in addition to the meals that we have already been providing,” she said.
The amount of $2.75 million seems like enough to be put toward permanent supportive housing, but Derek Woodbury, a spokesman for Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, said this temporary lodging is part of the city’s approach to curtailing homelessness.
“It’s a shelter that is very much needed in our community,” Woodbury said. “All of our shelter facilities are essential. The fact that it’s non-congregate is making a big impact for people and moving them on to
Baluyot said although the funding is not being used for permanent housing, the city is at a point where it needs to get as many people off the street as possible.
According to last year’s Point in Time Count, which only accounted for people living in shelters due to the pandemic, the city of Denver had 3,750 people experiencing homelessness, and as the unsheltered count returns this year, that number is expected to increase.
“We want to do everything we can to get people out of shelter and to stay in whatever their new housing situation is,” Baluyot said.