Denver approves permit for tiny home village to house homeless in RiNo

DENVER – The city has given the green light to a plan to construct a village of tiny homes to house homeless residents in Denver’s River North neighborhood.

The Colorado Village Collaborative, which comprises members from a number of community organizations, said the city approved a zoning permit late last week for Beloved Community Village.

The village will be located on a vacant lot at 3733 Walnut Street, adjacent to Walnut Liquors and Black Shirt Brewing Company. The 38th and Blake RTD station is less than a block away.

Plans call for 11 8-foot-by-12-foot shelters in a self-governing village that will include community gathering space, restrooms and showers.

"People will see it's a functional village just like any other place where people are living. It's not that different than an apartment complex or small collection of homes,” said Terese Howard with Denver Homeless Outloud.

Howard is happy to see the city approve the plans she's been working on for 4 years.

The city's permit only lasts for six months, but the coalition hopes to expand to new locations in the future.

The tiny homes can be placed on flatbed trailers and moved every six months to other areas the coalition can get approved.

An opportunity like this could change Sandra Hermans' life.

“Hopefully this will give me a little bit more stability. I'm trying to get into college to be a vet tech, but I can't do that if I don't have somewhere to go,” Herman said.

The small number of tiny homes won’t put much of a dent in Denver’s homelessness problem, but organizers say Beloved Community Village will provide another option for those who aren’t well-suited to traditional shelters, such as couples, people with pets and those in the LGBTQ community.

The coalition has a thorough vetting process for future residents and members will have to adhere to guidelines set forth by the village’s residents.

Opponents claim it will be an eyesore and could attract crime, but supporters defend the village, saying it's worked in other states like Oregon and Texas.

This is Colorado's first tiny homeless village.

Right now, more than 6,000 men, women and children are estimated to be homeless in the Denver metro area.

Organizers say they hope to eventually develop zoning that will allow for more permanent tiny home villages throughout the city. Construction on Beloved Community Village could begin later this month. 

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