This week, homeless advocates took to Facebook to announce plans for a tiny-home village to be located within the RiNo Arts District, at 38th and Walnut streets.
Called “Beloved Community Village,” the tiny-home village is being proposed as a 180-day pilot project, with a supporting crowdfunding campaign that kicked off on March 15. A website for the Beloved Community Village provides further description:
The village will include 11 Tiny homes for individuals and couples, 1 CircHouse (for food preparation and gatherings), Restrooms and Showers….[It] will provide small-scale Tiny homes for up to 22 people (11 Tiny Homes), beginning this year as an 180-day pilot project. It will be democratically self-governed with a mission to provide homes for those people experiencing homelessness that will also cultivate community living and self-empowerment. The Village is a place that enables people without homes to reestablish their place in a community. It’s a place where they can rediscover Talents, renew their purpose and restore their dignity. Most importantly, it’s a place they can call home. A truly radical experiment to help provide just one solution to homelessness.
According to ASAP's website, the village has been endorsed by RiNo and the Cole and Curtis Park neighborhood associations. The land was provided by the Urban Land Conservancy, and the showers, restrooms will be provided by Bayaud Enterprises.
The village has been one of the main priorities for ASAP (Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project) since the coalition – which includes members of the homeless community, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Denver Homeless Out Loud and others – came together in March 2016. The tiny-home village is being spearheaded by a spin-off organization launched by ASAP called the Colorado Village Collaborative, and includes sponsorship by the Beloved Community Mennonite Church.
Over the past year, advocates have been meeting privately with Mayor Michael Hancock and members of his staff with the aim of creating a city-sanctioned tiny-home village; gaining city approval would avoid the type of conflict that occurred in October 2015, when Denver Homeless Out Loud's Resurrection Village, at Sustainability Park at Lawrence and 26th streets, was dismantled by Denver police officers.
A similar project has also been moving forward at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and will consist of eight tiny homes, though that project is likely to be constructed after the Beloved Community Village in RiNo.
So far, there has been no public announcement by the city about the project at 38th and Walnut; however, the city has been working with project organizers.
"In late 2016, discussions began in earnest for a pilot project at 38th and Walnut, on property owned by the Urban Land Conservancy," wrote Amber Miller, spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office. "Code experts from Denver Community Planning and Development and Denver Environmental Health have met with the project team several times over the last few months to discuss the unique aspect of this project.
"This week, the project team submitted an application for a temporary zoning use permit for the project to Denver Community Planning and Development," she continued. "If the zoning permit is approved, the next steps will include a site plan review. If approved, the final steps would involve building permits for the proposed structures, and inspections once the construction is complete."
Kayvan Khalatbari, who recently announced his candidacy for mayor and is a principal member of ASAP, was among the activists who posted online about the Beloved Community Village this week. In response to a question about whether the proposed village had city approval and was "real," Khalatbari answered: "VERY real. One of the good things to come out of pressuring the city the past few months. There are still hurdles to go through, primarily integrating this new concept into the neighborhood."
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"This is a 180-day pilot project to explore a unique proposal to provide alternative housing solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness," Miller wrote. "Our focus throughout this effort is ensuring healthy and safe living conditions for individuals."