The Denver City Council Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee approved nine contracts Wednesday, allocating more than $18 million to housing programs addressing homelessness.
With this, the committee has approved 21 notice of funding availability (NOFA) contracts since August. These contracts fund 2021 housing opportunity, housing stability and homelessness resolution programs using federal and local funds.
“There is an absolute crisis of homelessness on our doorstep right now that we have to respond to,” said Angie Nelson with the Denver Department of Housing Stability, saying that HOST “decided to go big and procure for every type of program that we have.”
Another five NOFA contracts are scheduled to be submitted to the committee in the coming weeks. An additional 35 contracts were awarded without council approval since they were for less than $500,000.
The nine new contracts will now go to the full Denver City Council where they will need to be approved before implementation.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Kendra Black requested a total account of all of the federal COVID-19 relief funds going toward assisting residents through HOST.
“We’re all very concerned about people who don’t have homes. In a lot of parts of our city, it seems like there’s more than ever,” Black said. “I think our constituents would like to know all of the extraordinary efforts that you are doing.”
If approved by the council, two of the contracts will provide just under $3 million to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless for programs providing housing placement services and rental and utility assistance.
Another two contracts, totaling over $11 million, would go to the Salvation Army for rapid rehousing services, homelessness prevention services and 24-hour shelter operations and programs at the Crossroads Center.
Two other contracts would give $1.55 million to Urban Peak Denver to fund services directed towards youth, including rapid rehousing and supportive housing services for those aged 18 to 24 and shelter operations and programs for those aged 15 to 24.
The remaining contracts include funding to the Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation, Jewish Family Service of Colorado and Catholic Charities and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Denver, Inc. for homeless prevention, rapid rehousing, emergency shelter and down payment assistance.
Council President Stacie Gilmore said Wednesday that, of the NOFA contracts, only 12% of funding has gone towards housing stability while 82% has gone toward homeless programs.
“How can we perhaps expand that?” Gilmore asked. “How are we investing these dollars and where are the gaps? What different options are out there to backfill on some of these very important pieces?”
Nelson said this gap is because the housing stability division doesn’t have its own dedicated funding stream and HOST is working to potentially develop that dedicated funding. Housing stability services include emergency home repair and tenant-landlord counseling.
This comes as the committee passed three other NOFA contracts during its last meeting, totaling over $7 million.
Two of those contracts – funding the Volunteers of America’s family motel shelter program and the St. Francis Center's rapid resolution and shelter program – were unanimously approved by the full Denver City Council Tuesday. The third contract has yet to be voted on.
Nelson said HOST may bring through even more NOFA contracts following the final five expected in the coming weeks, depending on possible incoming funding.