HOST COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Impacts

Since March 2020, Denver has spent more than $96 million on COVID-19 emergency response, with over $50 million supporting the sheltering mission for people experiencing homelessness. The City’s work continues with partners to provide testing for people experiencing homelessness and collaborating with Denver’s largest shelter and service providers to deploy a range of 24/7 sheltering options that include auxiliary shelter, existing shelters, and hotel/motel rooms for persons experiencing homelessness. 


Sheltering Response

The COVID-19 crisis initially resulted in a 56 percent decrease in shelter capacity, due to social distancing standards. As a result, HOST activated several different sheltering models in order to meet needs while protecting the health of vulnerable populations and the community:

  • Auxiliary Sheltering is open 24/7 and offers support services such as showers, laundry, and health services in addition to beds. 
  • Protective Action Rooms are hotel and motel rooms that are available to unhoused individuals who are considered vulnerable to COVID-19, including those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions. 
  • Activated Respite Rooms are hotel and motel rooms that are available to unhoused individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting test results, or are otherwise advised to isolate. There are over 800 rooms available for Protective Action and Activated Respite. 

Operations for existing overnight shelters have adjusted to accommodate COVID needs and restrictions regarding physical distancing.

Some shelters have increased hours of operations and added caseworkers. Please visit the Find A Shelter page for sheltering locations.


Testing

HOST has coordinated with partners to offer testing for vulnerable populations through street outreach, at shelters, and in protective action. Through this collaborative effort, HOST can ensure people experiencing homelessness and housing instability have access to safe testing procedures and supportive services that prioritize their health and wellbeing.  

Partners in this area include:

  • Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE)
  • Catholic Charities of Denver 
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
  • The Delores Project
  • Denver Rescue Mission
  • The Gathering Place
  • St. Francis Center
  • The Salvation Army
  • Urban Peak
  • Volunteers of America

Leveraging Federal Resources - Rehousing

Rehousing is a housing program that combines subsidies such as rental assistance with supportive services like job counseling, home search assistance, and security deposit assistance. Rehousing is a way to quickly resolve an episode of homelessness, while providing a framework for a household to move on to permanent housing.

Rehousing programs:

  • Support stability
  • Reduce shelter capacity needs 
  • Limit exposure to COVID-19 for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

Housing Stability 

Another goal is to promote housing stability by keeping people in the homes they already live in, especially during the pandemic. The City has been working with partners to meet the increased need for Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance, including utilizing $5 million in CARES Act funds for rental/utility assistance and mortgage assistance, and developing outreach strategies to vulnerable groups to better assist them in staying in their homes.

Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance 2020

Month Number of Unduplicated Households Served
January 100
February 88
March 75
April 143
May 298
June 215
July 288
August 340
September 249
October 251
 Total  2,047

Affordable Housing 

The City is also investing in housing opportunity during the COVID crisis, working to create and preserve affordable housing and promoting access to housing opportunities. Currently, 22 City-funded affordable housing projects are under construction and are expected to produce 1,653 total housing units.