Shelter for young, homeless people in southwest Denver plans for much larger facility, with neighborhood support

Urban Peak already operates a one-story shelter for its young clients at 1630 S. Acoma St., but it hopes to dramatically revamp and redevelop the site.

A girls dorm at the Urban Peak youth homeless shelter in Overland, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

homelessness; urban peak; acoma; homeless shelter; youth shelter; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
20-year-old Michael Jaramillo shows Urban Peak's CEO Christina Carlson the painting he made with an outreach volunteer, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) homelessness; urban peak; acoma; homeless shelter; youth shelter; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
20-year-old Michael Jaramillo shows Urban Peak’s CEO Christina Carlson the painting he made with an outreach volunteer, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Urban Peak plans to build a “five-story mixed use building” in southwest Denver that will include a shelter and apartments for young people experiencing homelessness, according to public records.

The nonprofit already operates a one-story shelter for its young clients at 1630 S. Acoma St., but it hopes to dramatically revamp and redevelop the site.

“It’s just a little bit tired,” said Christina Carlson, the group’s new chief executive. “We’ve been running a shelter out of there for over 20 years, and it’s had a lot of wear and tear.”

A girls dorm at the Urban Peak youth homeless shelter in Overland, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) homelessness; urban peak; acoma; homeless shelter; youth shelter; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
A girls dorm at Urban Peak. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The proposed new building would be the tallest on its block, a light-industrial area between Broadway and Overland Golf Course. It would include about 40 shelter beds, several dorm-style units and potentially 60 units of permanent, supportive housing.

The organization also hopes to move its offices to the new building, and to make room for the many services that it offers.

“If you need to meet with your therapist and you’re having a really bad day, (the therapist) can come on-site rather then sending somebody out into the world when they’re having a rough day,” Carlson said.

The idea is to offer “wrap-around services” that help stabilize young people who often are dealing with trauma, substance abuse or mental health issues.

“You’re bringing kids in off the street, from the foster care system for their whole lives, to begin to create trusting relationships,” Carlson said. “That is the most important thing that we can do.”

Early visions of the new building also include outdoor space and community space.

However, there’s a long way to go. First, the group has to convince the Denver City Council to rezone the property. Assuming that happens, Urban Peak may apply for affordable housing tax credits to fund the project.

Urban Peak's CEO Christina Carlson in their Overland location, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) homelessness; urban peak; acoma; homeless shelter; youth shelter; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Urban Peak’s CEO Christina Carlson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Overland Park Neighborhood Association issued a letter of support for the new proposal. “This proposed project offers a significant investment to our neighborhood and the new building will be both a significant aesthetic improvement as well as an economic and social investment in the area,” it stated.

Urban Peak currently has its offices in downtown Denver, near 21st and Stout streets. The organization hasn’t decided what it would do with that property, which it owns, if the Acoma Street project proceeds.

Carlson is a social worker by training and most recently was the chief advancement officer for the Colorado Symphony. She became the CEO of Urban Peak three months ago.

Urban Peak youth homeless shelter, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) homelessness; urban peak; acoma; homeless shelter; youth shelter; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Urban Peak youth homeless shelter, Nov. 2, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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.