The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless hosts the 31st annual "We Will Remember: Homeless Persons' Memorial Vigil" in front of the City and County Building on Dec. 21, 2020 in Denver. Due to COVID-19, this year's event was a socially-distanced luminary walk instead of the large community gathering, with the names appearing of each person who passed this year.

The Denver City Council extended three contracts on Monday that will allow the city to continue providing temporary housing in hotel rooms for some people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Denver’s shelter capacity has been sliced by 56%, or about 1,200 beds, because of social distancing requirements related to the pandemic, according to Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability. To create more space, city officials stood up two emergency homeless shelters last year at the National Western Complex and the nearby Denver Coliseum and also secured more than 800 hotel rooms for people without housing who were affected by or at risk of catching the coronavirus.

On Monday during the council's second meeting of the year, members voted to keep the hotel rooms running through February, with the option to extend the contracts up to an additional four months.

The council approved adding nearly $1.8 million to an agreement with DHF Denver Operating V, LLC, doing business as Hampton Inn and Suites Denver-Downtown, for a new total of $4.6 million, securing 151 rooms.

The council also approved two contract amendments with JBK Hotels, LLC, doing business as Aloft, to provide 140 rooms for people experiencing homelessness and to supply food for residents staying in the hotel, which is located in Council District 9. Together the contracts added about $3 million to the existing agreements, for a new total of roughly $7.4 million. 

Separately, members also approved a contract amendment with Family Homestead to add nearly $208,000, for a new total of about $905,000, to provide emergency transitional housing and case management to unhoused families through the end of 2021. Support includes helping residents secure financial stability and obtain long-term housing citywide, according to the contract. 

Last month, the Denver City Council unanimously approved a trio of contracts, worth $4.1 million, to establish 98 new units of supportive housing and a 75-bed recuperative medical care center in the Five Points neighborhood for people living without housing.

The nine-story project will be made possible in partnership with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. The complex, to be called Legacy Lofts, will be located at 2175 California St., two blocks from a public transit station and adjacent to the Stout Street Health Center. 

“The solution to homelessness is housing, and we’re proud to partner once again with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to fund safe, secure housing with access to services,” Fisher said in a statement after the vote. “Legacy Lofts is indeed a legacy project that will make a critical difference in helping to exit individuals from homelessness and to establish stability in their lives.”

Across Denver, a total of 1,808 affordable units receiving city financing are currently under construction at 23 sites, according to city housing officials. An additional 904 income-restricted units are in the planning stage.

At least 4,171 people were estimated to be experiencing homelessness in Denver, according to the latest Point-in-Time snapshot taken last January.

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