Council Approves Contracts for Rent Assistance, Safe Outdoor Space

Published on February 17, 2021

Denver City Council passed a trio of resolutions tonight totaling nearly $24.3 million, aimed at assisting those experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The investments, led by Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, will greatly expand rent and utility assistance resources available to households facing financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, funding is being provided to expand temporary managed campsites available in Denver for individuals experiencing homelessness.

“Too many residents are facing housing insecurity as a direct result of this pandemic,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Investing these additional federal and local resources to help keep people in their homes, and to help connect our most vulnerable residents toward stability, will provide much needed relief to those who need it most.”

The funding includes the execution of a grant agreement totaling nearly $22 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the Emergency Rental Assistance program, as well as an additional $1.5 million contract expansion for the Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance (TRUA) program. It also includes a new contract with the Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC), totaling $899,569, for the operation of two Safe Outdoor Space sites with amenities and services for up to 100 households. The contract supports CVC’s existing site in North Capitol Hill, as well as a future site to be determined.

CVC opened its first Safe Outdoor Space at Denver Community Church, 1595 Pearl St., on December 15, 2020. CVC is working to identify its second site, to be managed collaboratively with the St. Francis Center as a subcontractor. Another existing site is run by the Earthlinks, Inc. at First Baptist Church in Capitol Hill. The existing and upcoming managed campsites provide shelter and hygiene facilities for individuals and households experiencing homelessness, as well as access to services such as COVID-19 testing, housing referral and navigation, employment referrals, and daily wellness screenings.

“These funds represent the city and the community working together to advance meaningful solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors. We look forward to growing this strategy in the days ahead,” said CVC Executive Director Cole Chandler.

According to Colorado Village Collaborative, residents at the existing Safe Outdoor Space sites are already experiencing positive outcomes, including: five residents moving into tiny homes in the organization’s Beloved Community Village; five residents have been entered into OneHome, the region’s coordinated entry system; 14 residents have received dental cleanings; two residents are continuing their sobriety journeys; and seven residents have been connected with mental health services. One resident has also secured employment in a previous field and is saving for an apartment.

The TRUA program helps Denver residents facing eviction and other financial hardship to stay in their homes by helping with rent and utility payments. Tonight’s allocation is expected to serve 310 unduplicated households. The Emergency Rental Assistance program, which was launched recently by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, also makes available financial assistance to households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to 90 percent of the funding can be used for rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other expenses related to housing. Up to 10% of remaining funds are available for housing stability services, including case management and other services intended to keep households stably housed, and administrative costs.

To learn more and apply for TRUA and/or Emergency Rental Assistance, Denver residents can call 3-1-1 and press 6. Callers will be asked to provide basic information such as their address, proof of Denver residency, proof of household income, proof of rent or utilities due, and information about the cause of the crisis, i.e. loss of employment, COVID-19 related issues, potential eviction, etc.