Homeless development plans in Lakewood denied by feds

Charity plans appeal amid community opposition

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The 59-acre plot of federally owned surplus land at the Federal Center, with plans for a massive homeless development, may be back up for auction.

Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services denied the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless' application to take over the land as part of plans for 600 units meant to serve as emergency and permanent shelter for the homeless population.

There are close to 3,000 signatures on this petition to stop it. Lindsay Roser started “Lakewood Residents Unite.”

“We acknowledge need out there, but we think having a 600-unit complex in the middle of a business district is not the place for it. We don't have the services to support it in terms of police and fire resources,” said Roser.

She wants impact studies and worries about the contaminated land.

"We don't feel like it's been properly remediated," said Roser."The idea of housing families of children -- any family and person on this land is really concerning the community for health reasons."

Some context here: this site was a landfill that still contains asbestos in parts. After a legal battle, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined it was OK for homeless use. Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, homeless service providers have the right of first refusal to acquire surplus federal land, but it can only be used in whole for homeless development, not in portions.

That was point of contention for many who are against the development, who thought it would become an island of homeless people. Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul told Denver7 the plans needed more integration with the community.

"We recognize there's a homeless problem. We are not going to shy away from that but we also feel that a 59-acre development that's only dedicated to the homeless is not the best way to address the issue. It's kind of old fashioned,” Paul. "Mix of businesses. You're gonna want some retail, but you're also gonna want some residential with the light rails stop right here."

That brings us back to CCH CEO John Parvensky, who heard the complaints loud and clear.

"From day one, we have said that we are open to that solution. We have asked the feds is it possible to request just a portion of the property and they have said no," he said.

He plans to appeal the Health and Humans Services decision, and told Denver7 that if he needs to, he will "be going back to court to protect rights of people experiencing homelessness in Lakewood and Jefferson County."

For more information, please visit CCH's website.

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