The Colorado Safe Parking Initiative is looking for Denver businesses, religious organizations, or any commercial entity to partner with and provide parking spaces to new homeless people living 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 Sunday by the Denver Department of Housing Stability and uses funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support at least two safe parking sites with at least eight parking spaces for new homeless, city officials said in a news release. They said they hope to serve around 60 households under this program through May 2023.
Even though the impact of parking spaces is relatively small, Terrell Curtis, executive director of the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative, said it’s a good start for the city to provide support for innovative solutions for homeless Denverites. .
“Just because we can’t do everything at once doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything,” Curtis said. “This problem affects everyone, from your grandmother to your little nieces and nephews.”
Secure parking provides connection to services and legal and secure overnight parking with access to toilets (portable toilets, hand washing stations) and drinking water.
Due to Denver’s tight housing market and growing need for affordable housing, Curtis said, most of the homeless people they see in their 12 parking lots across the Front Range are employed people who lost their homes in the course of the last year.
Helping and partnering with municipalities from Broomfield to Lakewood, and now including Denver, is rewarding for their work and a positive sign for the future.
“As homelessness has increased in Denver, our commitment to providing alternative housing to help individuals achieve greater stability that ultimately leads to housing,” said HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher. “This is a modest step in the evolution of Denver’s support system for our homeless neighbors. We hope to see greater capacity among community partners to develop this model in the future.
Now that the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative is receiving this $150,000 funding from Denver, attention is now turning 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 are currently at faith-based organizations, but since they will be opening two secure parking sites at commercial warehouses in Adams County next month, they are looking for any entity that can support their mission.
“We’re looking for a like-minded organization that’s willing to offer their space,” she said.
Organizations can find more support information on the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative website.
Partners must be able to help provide take-out containers and hand-washing stations, Curtis said, as the need for publicly accessible restrooms has also increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.