DENVER — In Mayor Michael Hancock's proposed budget for 2022, he has put nearly $230 million towards combating the city's visibly changing and growing homeless issues.
The proposal was publicized the same day that one of the city's largest and most noticeable homeless encampments at Civic Center Park was removed.
In the budget, $190 million will come from the city's general fund, the American Rescue Plan and other dedicated funds, and $39 Million will come from a proposed 2021 bond package.
The money will be divided into numerous initiatives. Roughly half will be dedicated to building, upgrading and retrofitting shelters and housing for people to live. The other half will be focused on outreach, services and safety. Roughly $24 million will be focused towards encampments, including rapid rehousing and outdoor safe spaces.
"We've seen [homelessness] grow exponentially over the last couple years," Hancock said during a discussion of his budget on Wednesday. "We're gonna be focused on building and acquiring more hotels and motels to help those who are unsheltered in our city, more housing vouchers, more tiny home villages and safe outdoor spaces and safe parking spaces for those who need temporary places to land while we try to figure out more transitional and permanent housing for them."
He also outlines a revamp of homeless services in the city.
"We'll have a new specialized team that will work to prioritize the review and approval of projects around affordable housing coming through the city," Hancock said.
The city has seen massive growth in its homeless population. The issue is also more visible as homeless sweeps push people living on the streets around the city.
"These are complicated, complicated issues, but I believe we can do it. I think we can actually get to the root of the problem," Denver councilwoman Jamie Torres said. "I am seeing us continue to spend money there and we probably still need it, but we also need options for folks to have a door for folks, to have a closet, for folks who have their own bathroom."
Torres says she will focus on investments that help people living on the streets to find solutions on their own. She says solutions will only work with the help of Denver residents both housed and unhoused.
"I can push somebody off of my sidewalk, but if they don't have anywhere to go, they're going to my neighbor's sidewalk somewhere else in my in my district," Torres said. "We've actually got to put up the places for them to go in order to get them the services that they need and get them into permanent housing."