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City Increases Storage Options for People Experiencing Homelessness

Two pilot projects add 210 storage units for those connecting to jobs and health services

DENVER – The City and County of Denver, through Denver’s Road Home, Denver Public Works and the Office of Housing & Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE), is adding 210 new storage units for people experiencing homelessness through two pilot projects announced today: a sidewalk storage pilot and expansion of day shelter storage.

“A person living without a home currently has few options to safely store their personal belongings,” said Office of HOPE Executive Director Erik Soliván. “Those experiencing homelessness have told us that not having a place where they can safely store their belongings can be a barrier to obtaining a good job, shelter at night, and good health. We listened, and we’re bringing that barrier down. These two pilot projects will increase safe, secure storage for a short time while people engage in work, health services and shelter.”

Ten large item storage lockers are now installed along Lawrence Street and Park Avenue West and the city will add 200 medium and small item storage units for those accessing the day shelter beginning June 1, 2017. The two short-term storage pilots are part of the Office of HOPE’s 30 short-term action items for 2017 unveiled this past Friday at the city’s 3rd annual Denver Housing Summit. The action items were developed through outreach with people experiencing homelessness, homeless advocates, providers, neighbors and businesses.

Denver Public Works installed the 10 new sidewalk storage units along Lawrence Street and Park Avenue West on May 10, 2017 and initiated the project on May 12. Six individuals currently have permits for the units, with four additional persons awaiting permits. Denver’s Road Home, Office of HOPE, Denver Public Works, Denver Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities’ Samaritan House partnered to create the pilot. Individuals experiencing homelessness who are accessing jobs, health services, and shelter may access the units for 30 days with the option to extend use of the unit to 60 days.

“Denver Rescue Mission serves about 1,000 people a day at our Lawrence Street Community Center and overnight shelter, but our guests tell us that having a safe place to store large items can prevent people from accessing even our most basic services,” said Denver Rescue Mission President and CEO Brad Meuli. “By providing these short-term large item storage units, this pilot project has the potential to make a significant impact not just for those we serve, but also for the neighborhood.”

“We fully support this project and hope it is just the start of a longer-term solution for guests who need a safe place to store their most vital items,” said Larry Smith, CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver. “It is one small way we can make a big impact in removing a barrier people may face when deciding whether to access emergency shelter.”

The second project, an expansion of short-term storage in partnership with St. Francis Center, launches June 1, 2017 and will add 200 small and medium storage spaces at their employment center for a 30-day period.

Tom Luehrs, Executive Director of St. Francis Center said, “St. Francis Center routinely sees a great need for additional storage for the people we serve. The hundreds of additional safe storage spots through this storage expansion project will allow more people to access services and handle their other needs without the worry of potentially losing their most precious personal items.”

How will the short-term sidewalk storage pilot work?

  • Denver Public Works will administer the program. Individuals must provide a shelter ID and be able to demonstrate their engagement in workforce training, employment, health services or shelter.
  • Units are available for 30 days with the option to extend use for another 30 days.
  • The pilot will run for 90 days beginning May 12, 2017. The city will evaluate the pilot results for consideration of future funding
  • Once individuals agree to the terms and conditions of using the sidewalk storage locker, Public Works will assign a locker and a combination lock to that individual. Misuse will result in a loss of the permit.

How will the expanded short-term day shelter storage pilot work?

  • Adds 200 temporary storage units to St. Francis Center’s employment office.
  • Currently St. Francis Center operates a 30-day storage program for approximately 500 guests who need to store small to medium sized items (approximately 2’x 2’x3’) at their Curtis Street location.
  • The project is a partnership between St. Francis Center and Denver’s Road Home.
  • The pilot expansion of day shelter storage will begin June 1, 2017.
  • Denver’s Road Home will evaluate the pilot after six months to determine whether it will continue.