DENVER – The Denver City Council on Tuesday approved additional funds for bus services that transports the city’s homeless population to an overflow shelter due to a lack of space at the downtown shelter.
The council approved a nearly $1 million contract to continue running the program, which uses four private buses to take Denver’s homeless to the overflow shelter on the outskirts of the city when the typical shelters used by the population fill up.
David Norrell, who is homeless, says he uses the buses “out of necessity” when the downtown shelters are full – which happens often during the cold winter months.
Council also approved $850,000 to provide mental health and housing services to 75 people in the metro area deemed “chronically homeless,” which pleased Denver’s Road Home Executive Director Bennie Milliner.
“It is a lot of money. Therapists cost money; psychiatrists cost money and that’s what it is,” Milliner said. “This is not an issue that is going to go away cheaply.”
In the 2017 budget, Denver plans to buy its own buses and employ drivers, which would end the private contract with Nebraska-based Bus Co Inc.
Last year, Denver spent more than $47 million on homeless-related programs.
Once the city has its own buses, it hopes the move will save money. Some city officials estimate the expense could be cut by nearly 50 percent by moving away from a private company.