In response to Denver’s large homeless population, the city is providing lockers for the homeless to place their belongings so they can take better advantage of local outreach programs.
If the homeless are worried about where to place their belongings and “don’t have access to safe, secure storage and those are all your possessions in the world,” then they aren’t going to utilize available resources said Julie Smith, a spokesperson from Denver Human Services, to the Denverite May 23.
Ten storage units were added to a street downtown, where many homeless shelters are located. Smith explained the containers will hold about as much stuff as will fit into a shopping cart, and can be reserved for 30 days with the option of an additional 30 day renewal. The sidewalk lockers cost about $3,000 for each installment.
Teaming up with the Saint Francis Center, Denver is also planning on adding 200 more storage spaces at the organization’s employment service center, located near the city’s capital building. The contract between the city of Denver and the Saint Francis Center will start on June 1 and with $130,000 for the first year of storage space. After that, the center will be given $100,000 a year if the contract continues.
Smith said the pilot program will measure the use and frequency of the storage systems, and will reassess in a year. However, she said in order to access these lockers the person must be actively involved in one of Denver’s many homeless services.
Denver’s Road Home has over 20 community based organizations aiding thousands of homeless people to find a job, skill train, long term and short term shelters as well as providing food and clothing. According to their website, nearly a thousand people were provided with housing last year.
Part of Denver’s many programs is the Saint Francis Center, an Episcopal ministry serving homeless and ex-offenders. It was established in 1983 and has since developed career services and a housing program. An additional program providing permanent lower income housing will be made available in 2017 or 2018.
In 2015, the center served an average of 811 people per day, distributed nearly 90,000 units of clothing, and facilitated jobs for just under 400 people.
Colorado has a large homeless population, and it has increased by over six percent between 2015 and 2016, according to an annual report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over 10,000 people were considered homeless in 2016, and fewer than one third of those do not have a shelter.