COVER STORY Denver homeless camping ban 300

A person shelters under a blanket along East Colfax Avenue near the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday, March 23, 2019, a practice that falls under the city's current ban on such shelters in public places.

Denver City Council members will attend an all-day retreat on housing and homelessness this Friday.

The retreat is hosted by the Department of Housing Stability at the request of Councilwomen Kendra Black and Stacie Gilmore who want to learn more about the work the agency is doing and its plans going forward. 

"We look forward to hearing from them and all that they are doing with their partners and their plans," Black said in an email to Colorado Politics.

Throughout the day, the city’s housing department will provide an informational overview of the city’s existing needs along the housing continuum, along with its plans to address them, HOST spokesman Derek Woodbury said in an email. 

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HOST staff will review its existing strategy to address Denver’s homelessness problem, including a run through of “Housing an Inclusive Denver,” the city’s five-year guiding document to provide more affordable housing throughout the city.

Over a 45-minute lunch, council members will meet with impacted residents and discuss their challenges.

Later in the day, HOST staff will present strategies to address housing needs, such as a peer navigator program that connects the homeless to people who can help them find a path to permanent housing.

Partner agency staff will also discuss innovations in housing stability, highlighting the newly established Caring for Denver Foundation, group living zoning code updates, the Mental Health Center of Denver’s co-responder program and the city’s social impact bond program, which is funded by a combination of investors, state and local dollars to provide housing and supportive services.   

HOST was established in October 2019 after Mayor Michael Hancock signed an executive order that essentially combined economic development staffers with employees from Denver’s Road Home, which used to be housed under Denver Human Services.

The newly branded housing department, which is led by Britta Fisher, launched last year with 40 full-time positions and is expected to grow to 60 this year.  

The retreat is open to the public and will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Room 391 of the Denver City and County Building.

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