Denver's group homes and shelters: What's on your block? (MAP)

This week's cover story, "Meet the Neighbors," examines the controversy stemming from a local ministry's efforts to establish a treatment program for recovering addicts in an historic home in Capitol Hill -- at the Bennett-Field house at 740 Clarkson Street, to be precise. Neighbors claim the effort violates zoning for the area, but Denver's zoning code isn't entirely clear on the subject.

At issue is what's known as the spacing ordinance, a requirement that "large residential care use" facilities be sited at least 2,000 feet from each other, with no more than two within a 4,000-foot radius of any new applicant. There are already three permits issued for large group homes less than 4,000 feet from 740 Clarkson.

Open Door Ministries, the operator of the LightHouse program, maintains that the program doesn't constitute large residential care use; the group is currently seeking a "transitional housing" permit. Opponents point to ODM documents in prior permit applications, describing a level of care and supervision that seems in keeping with the "large residential care" definitions.

Not surprisingly, the official map of Denver's shelters and large residential care permits shows a concentration of such facilities (which can include assisted-living homes, mental health group homes, and others) in the Capitol Hill area. Zoom in on the map below to see what permits have been issued in that neighborhood and others.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast