Called “Move Along to Here!,” the event took place exactly one year after a well-attended forum at the end of 2016 called “Move Along to Where?,” which had been organized following a traumatic 2016 for Denver’s homeless population, marked by large-scale sweeps of encampments and aggressive enforcement of the urban-camping ban. Denver also landed in the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s hall of shame.
Even though Denver’s housing crisis is even more dire now than it was in 2016, the atmosphere at this year’s “Move Along” event was noticeably more optimistic. Speakers focused on the success of Denver’s first tiny home village, which opened in July 2017 at the corner of 38th and Walnut streets.
The Beloved Community Village, which is home to eleven tiny homes and fifteen formerly homeless individuals, must move in January at the behest of the property owners, the Urban Land Conservancy. Friday’s event helped raise much of the $25,000 it will cost to move the village about 200 feet across an alleyway to another Urban Land Conservancy-owned property, which is not being slated for development for at least another six months.
Cole Chandler, who is with the Colorado Village Collaborative, the group behind the Beloved Community Village, told the packed crowd at RedLine that there are a few developments to anticipate in 2018.
The most prominent news is that the Colorado Village Collaborative has established a construction timeline in its partnership with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church to build another tiny home village on the church’s campus near downtown — at Glenarm Place and 20th Street. Chandler said construction will begin in early 2018 and the hope is for it to be completed by the end of spring. Other partners include the Dolores Project and architecture firm Radian Inc.
St. Andrew’s has actually been considering a tiny home village — consisting of eight to ten structures — since mid-2016, but the Beloved Community Village in RiNo came to fruition first, helped along by a special zoning permit from the city.
“The pilot project [in RiNo] has succeeded," Chandler declared. “We have had 0 percent recidivism; no one has returned to the streets. And the only person who’s left the village transitioned into permanent housing."
Still, Chandler says, it doesn’t much make sense for the village to move every six months. Next year, members of the Colorado Village Collaborative are going to petition the city to allow zoning for permanent tiny home villages.
With more flexible zoning, more tiny home villages could spread throughout Denver and eventually Colorado if other municipalities show interest.
Sprinkled in between music performances at Friday's event, residents of the Beloved Community Village gave heartfelt thanks to those who had helped them off the streets.
“When I moved into the village, I was so happy for almost a week that I cried myself to sleep,” said resident Silla Wolf. “They were tears of joy, of course."