The Colorado Safe Parking Initiative is searching for Denver businesses, faith organizations or any commercial entities to partner with and provide parking spots for newly homeless people who live in their cars after the city of Denver awarded them a $150,000 contract to fund the parking program.
The parking program contract was awarded through the Denver Department of Housing Stability Sunday and uses American Rescue Plan Act funds to support at least two safe parking sites with at least eight parking spots for newly homeless people, city officials said in a news release. They said they hope to serve an estimated 60 households under this program through May 2023.
Even though the impact of the parking spots is relatively small, Terrell Curtis, executive director of the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative, said this is a great start for the city to provide support for innovative solutions for unhoused Denverites.
“Just because we can’t do everything at once, doesn’t mean we should do nothing,” Curtis said. “This issue is affecting everyone, from your grandma, to your little nieces and nephews.”
Safe parking provides connection to services and safe, legal overnight parking with restroom access (portable toilets, handwashing stations) and drinking water.
Because of Denver’s tight housing market and rising need for affordable housing, Curtis said, most of the unhoused people they see in their 12 parking sites across the Front Range are employed people who have fallen out of housing within the last year.
The assistance from and partnership with municipalities from Broomfield to Lakewood, and now including Denver, is gratifying to their work` and a positive sign for the future.
“While unsheltered homelessness has risen in Denver, so is our dedication to providing shelter alternatives to assist individuals with achieving greater stability that ultimately leads toward housing,” said HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher . “This is a modest step in the evolution of Denver’s support system for our unhoused neighbors. We hope to see greater capacity among community partners to grow this model in the future.”
Now that the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative has this $150,000 funding from Denver, the attention now turns to finding safe parking sites.
The funding includes an existing site in southeast Denver, but the second location has yet to be determined.
Curtis said all of their existing sites right now are at faith organizations, but as they will open two safe parking sites at commercial warehouses in Adams County next month, they are looking for any entity that can support their mission.
“We are on the hunt for a likeminded organization that is willing to offer their space,” she said.
Organizations can find more information about assisting on the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative’s website.
Partners need to be able to assist in providing port-a-potties and handwashing stations, Curtis said, as the need for publicly accessible restrooms has also risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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