Denver expands homeless employment program to River North

The Denver Day Works program will pay 36 people to keep River North extra tidy and welcoming over the next three weeks.

Danny Tims, Jr., 48, got a full-time seasonal job through Denver Day Works. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Danny Tims, Jr., 48, got a full-time seasonal job through Denver Day Works. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Danny Tims Jr., 48, got a full-time seasonal job through Denver Day Works. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

The city of Denver’s experimental jobs program for people experiencing homelessness will take on a new challenge in the next few weeks.

The Denver Day Works program will pay 36 people to keep River North extra tidy and welcoming over the next three weeks, around the time of the Crush mural-painting festival.

This will be new territory for the program, which has largely focused on maintenance of parks and public buildings so far. The RiNo pilot is the first time a specific neighborhood or district has hired people from the new program, and special events may represent a new business opportunity.

The idea of Denver Day Works is to create jobs that pay prevailing wages — $12.59 an hour, in this case — and have few or no barriers to entry. The program aims to place people in permanent jobs with the city and private companies and also to help them find services they might need.

The program claims that more than 40 private employers are participating. In RiNo, four businesses — Wolf Properties, Denver Central Market, Crema Coffee, The Preservery and The Rackhouse — will provide meals and other amenities for the workers.

The River North district governments will provide materials for the crew and a $2,500 cash contribution to Denver Day Works. RiNo Art District President Jamie Licko said that this would be “just the beginning” of the area’s work with the program.

The program has paid out about $83,000 in wages from city funds so far, according to city staff; 76 people have found longer-term employment through the program, including 12 with the city, according to city staff.

More coverage:

Denver found long-term jobs for 62 homeless people at auto shops, grocery stores and the library

Denver Day Works proves many homeless people want to work. Now we’re seeing whether the program works for them.

Where will the money for the Denver Day Works homeless hiring program go?

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.