LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The metro's growing homeless problem doesn't seem to be getting any better, but there's a promising solution in Lakewood with the proposal of a huge housing development. On one hand, it will provide real resources to help homeless families transition to permanent housing, but this project will also be in one neighborhood's backyard.
Dome shelters, FEMA trailers and tents will soon dot a barren plot of land in Lakewood and it has people talking.
“I think it would be a good idea. There are a lot of people struggling. I’m a single mother. Times are hard. One paycheck and I could be needing help like that,” said Lilla Arguello, a Lakewood resident.
Help for hundreds of homeless people is on the way, but it took a fight.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless had its eye on land at the Denver Federal Center to develop temporary and permanent housing for the homeless. The 59-acre property is owned by the federal government and managed by the General Services Administration adjacent to the Federal Center RTD station.
Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, excess or surplus federal property must be made available to homeless service providers at a normal costs help the homeless. Federal housing officials said toxic materials from a landfill made it unsuitable for the homeless, but then tried to sell it for residential housing. CCH officials said, not so fast.
“We filed suit saying that it couldn't be suitable for rich folks but not suitable for the homeless and we won in court,” said CCH’s CEO John Parvensky.
He told Denver7 Jefferson County’s homeless population is directly tied to skyrocketing housing costs.
“We are seeing more and more families who are homeless for the first time and people who are not able to pay their rent and losing their housing.”
But some don’t want it in their backyard.
On Nextdoor and in the community, the debates keep on going. But there is hope the new development will win over its new neighbors.
“Homeless people might just have fallen on hard times. They just need somewhere to recover and get their lives back together,” said Lakewood resident Roger Holloway.
The redevelopment of the Federal Center property will occur in two phases.
In phase one, CCH will sue the property to provide a campus of emergency shelter and transitional housing and services for homeless families and individuals using temporary structures placed or built on site.
During phase two over the next several years, the temporary structures will be replaced with permanent buildings to be used for supportive, affordable housing and transitional housing.
CCH is still awaiting approval to their phase two application.
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