Homeless

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Dedicates Recuperative Care Center

Mayor Michael Hancock honoring John Parvensky with a City Coin.
Mayor Michael Hancock honoring John Parvensky with a City Coin. Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless just unveiled one of its most innovative projects to date: the Stout Street Recuperative Care Center.

"We've all heard horror stories of people being discharged in hospital garb to bus stops, to park benches, to shelters and day centers that were not equipped to serve them, without the resources they needed to follow up on their care. Too many people were re-hospitalized or worse," John Parvensky, the longtime CEO and president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said at the October 6 dedication of the new center.

The facility, which will likely start accepting its first residents in November, will provide 75 medical respite beds for people experiencing homelessness who are discharged from a hospital and need to recover in a housed setting. The stays for these individuals, who will be referred to the recuperative care center directly by hospitals, will typically last between 30 and 45 days. During that time, they'll have access to round-the-clock medical care, mental health care, three meals a day, personal hygiene items, and case management to help ensure that their next step is stable housing. The center, built on what used to be a Colorado Coalition for the Homeless staff parking lot, is right next to the Stout Street Health Center, with its staff of clinicians and other professionals.

The Denver Housing Authority owns the land underneath the building, which it is leasing to the Coalition for $1 per year for 99 years. The entire project cost $46.5 million and was funded by a range of contributors, including federal, state and local governments, in addition to private donors, hospitals and foundations. One of the center's goals is to lower the overall health-care costs of individuals experiencing homelessness, since lengthy hospital stays can be expensive.
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The Stout Street Recuperative Care Center will help people recover indoors.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
But while the ceremony focused primarily on the recuperative care center, many of those who spoke  praised Parvensky for his work for the organization since the mid-1980s; he's retiring as soon as the Coalition finds a replacement.

"It's just mind-boggling what he can pull together for our community and the vast number of people who are experiencing homelessness," said Congresswoman Diana DeGette, who secured $2 million in a past congressional spending bill to go toward this project. "John Parvensky and his team present a model on how to address this complex problem of homelessness throughout our country."

Parvensky shared what then-Governor John Hickenlooper said about him in a 2016 speech: "I've known Parvensky for about twenty years, and I've always thought he was a pain in the ass. I think he's still a pain in the ass. But he knows how to get things done."

Mayor Michael Hancock followed that up in his own remarks: "You learn in the job that some pains in the ass are worth tolerating." After that, he presented Parvensky with the City Coin, categorized as the highest honor in Denver, which has been bestowed on the likes of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Stevie Wonder. Hancock also declared October 6, 2022, John Parvensky Day in Denver.

The board of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless then announced that it was naming the new facility the "John Parvensky Stout Street Recuperative Care Center."
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The Renaissance Legacy Lofts apartments sit above the recuperative care center.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Above the center, the Coalition constructed 81 one-bedroom apartments and 17 studio apartments as permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness or at low-income levels. The first tenants will start living in the facility later this month; they'll only need to pay 30 percent of whatever income they have, whether it comes from a job or social security payments. Residents will have access to on-site case management and counseling services, laundry facilities, bike storage and a fourth-floor terrace. The development brings the Coalition's total unit count to around 1,800 in properties around metro Denver.

"Why build a building if you can't build housing above it?" Parvensky said.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.

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