Denver’s second sanctioned homeless encampment receives permit

Denver’s second sanctioned homeless encampment will be in the parking lot of a church in the Uptown neighborhood.

The city’s Community Planning and Development Department said Thursday that it has issued a temporary zoning permit for an encampment at Denver Community Church, 1543 and 1595 N. Pearl St.

The sanctioned encampments, which the city calls “safe outdoor spaces,” or SOSs, are managed campsites to serve people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. They are temporary.

The first location to receive a permit was at First Baptist Church of Denver, 1345 N. Grant St, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It will host up to 30 women and transgender individuals when it opens next week. The Uptown site will host as many as 40 men, women and pets when it opens, likely in mid-December, according to the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. Neither SOS will house children.

“Both of the sites for the safe outdoor spaces were offered up by congregations whose missions and faith align with supporting the unhoused in their neighborhoods,” said Matt Lynn, a spokesman for the alliance.

Mayor Michael Hancock announced over the summer that the city would temporarily use sanctioned campsites as an emergency step during the pandemic. It has coupled that policy with an ongoing breakup of the unsanctioned camps that people experiencing homelessness currently stay at.

SOS locations are required to have security, maintenance and measures in place to mitigate impacts to other properties. But they’ve drawn heated opposition from some residents, including Pete Coors, vice chair of the Molson Coors Brewing Co.

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