Denver plans to put $1.5 million into emergency housing assistance for people facing eviction

It’s one of a number of steps Denver is taking to offer concrete financial help to those most affected by displacement.

Denver’s going to launch a pilot program this summer to provide emergency housing assistance to families facing eviction.

It’s one of a number of steps the city is taking to offer concrete financial help to those most affected by the displacement and gentrification taking place in many Denver neighborhoods. The city also has an outreach worker in eviction court and is trying to provide more timely assistance to tenants who end up on the street because their housing isn’t up to health and safety standards.


Denver’s still trying to solve slot homes and put the “garden” in garden court

There’s a moratorium in place on this building type, and City Council might extend it until June 2018 as planners work out changes to development rules.

A "slot" development on 19th Avenue in West Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) slot homes; residential real estate; construction; development; fugly; west colfax; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite
A “slot” development on 19th Avenue in West Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This is a “slot home,” and a lot of people in Denver don’t think this is OK. Fixing the problem — if you agree there’s a problem — is going to take some more time.

These homes are often built under a provision in the zoning code called the “garden court form,” which is supposed to be for those U-shaped apartment buildings with a grassy courtyard in the middle. Instead, we’re getting a lot of these man-made box canyons, especially in West Colfax, Jefferson Park and Highland. There’s a moratorium in place on this building type, and City Council might extend it until June 2018 as planners work out changes to development rules.

However, this type of structure still can be built using other building forms — apartments or row homes — in many parts of Denver. It will probably be next year before changes to the relevant parts of the zoning code come before City Council.


Denver tries giving homeless people a place to store their stuff

Fear of losing all their earthly possessions can be a barrier for homeless people seeking shelter, services and work.

Sidewalk storage units on Lawrence Street near the Denver Rescue Mission and Samaritan House. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Sidewalk storage units on Lawrence Street near the Denver Rescue Mission and Samaritan House. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

One of the reasons homeless people give for not going to Denver’s shelters is that they have nowhere to store their belongings. Fear of losing all their earthly possessions can also be a barrier to getting a job or even seeking medical care.

So Denver is testing out a sidewalk storage system to see if people use it and how they use it — and if it’s worth continuing on a larger scale.


Urinating in public no longer carries the same penalty as domestic violence in Denver

Denver’s sentencing reform should make it less likely that low-level crimes could lead to deportation for legal immigrants.

Large numbers of low-level offenses, from urinating in public to trespassing, shoplifting and even simple assault, will no longer carry sentences of up to a year in jail in Denver.

The ostensible reason for this sentencing reform — the first in Denver since 1993 — is to reduce the likelihood of low-level crimes leading to immigration consequences for legal immigrants. The change also takes many “quality of life” offenses that are frequently committed by homeless people and removes fines and reduces the maximum sentence to 60 days. Those include panhandling, parks curfews, urinating in public, unauthorized camping and “encumbrances” (having lots of stuff on the sidewalk).


What happens if the Denver area loses its last mobile home parks?

Redevelopment pressures are threatening some of the last affordable housing in the Denver metro area that doesn’t require a government subsidy.

Sharon Whitehair poses for a portrait at the table where she studied for her bachelors and masters degrees behind her home in the Pioneer Village Mobile Home Park. Jan. 22, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) trailer park; sharon whitehair; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite
Sharon Whitehair sits at the table where she studied for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees on the patio of her home in the Pioneer Village Mobile Home Park. Jan. 22, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Hotels, mid-rise apartment buildings and offices are going up around the Denver Meadows mobile home park. On the other side of the recently opened R Line, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center is dotted with cranes as the hospital expands. Everything is shiny and new, except the mobile home park.

Aurora’s Colfax and 13th Avenue Station Area Plan identifies the park property as an ideal place for transit-oriented development. Last year, the residents of this park organized to beat back an attempt by the owner to rezone it. Now, the park ownership says it will simply close down the park.

“We might sell it. We might redevelop. We don’t know,” owner Shawn Lustigman said in a recent interview. In the meantime, residents describe a campaign of harassment from the management that they think is intended to empty out the park sooner rather than later.