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Reader: Denver Needs More Tiny Villages for the Homeless

At home at Beloved Community Village.EXPAND
At home at Beloved Community Village.
Lauren Antonoff

Beloved Community Village, now in its second location at 4400 Pearl Street, celebrated an expansion that added eight units as well as a common area with a kitchen and bathrooms, on February 25. Despite the new construction, this facility isn't permanent; under new Denver zoning regulations, tiny home villages can be built and used for up to 180 days, with a chance for a one-year renewal, or up to two years, with a chance for a two-year renewal.

Denver's Department of Community Planning and Development is working on another zoning-code update that would permit permanent tiny home villages...but there's still plenty of debate over whether they present a real solution to the challenges of homelessness in this city.

Says Tom: 

Does this look like a concentration camp to anyone else?

Responds Dawn: 

Apparently you have never had to suffer being homeless on the streets. Or been in a concentration camp because this looks nothing of the sort. These people are getting a chance to get back on their feet. So happy the city of Denver has allowed this. Need more of these, then the quickly built, expensive apartments that no one can afford.

Adds Enrique: 

What a fucked-up thing to do to give these people actual affordable living instead of shoving them into a box.

Replies Twyla: 

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Permanent housing is what these people need. This isn't close to stable...even if this project helps get someone off the streets and working, making financial progress to be self-sufficient is slow-going and realistically will take two to five years to achieve stability. In that timeframe, this place would force a resident to move locations and possibly units every two years, with no way of knowing which part of Denver the next temp location for your shack will be! How the hell is this cost-effective?!

Comments Emily: 

The level of ignorance and hatred toward fellow citizens trying to think creatively about getting people off the street and about people trying to end their chronic homelessness is repulsive. As someone who works in humans services with folks experiencing homelessness, I know several who have moved out of chronic homelessness by moving into a home at Beloved Community Village. The community members run the community, and for many this is a transitional space for a few years and they then move into a more standard living situation.

In a city like Denver and most across the country where the cost of living is far higher than minimum wage and hundreds of thousands of people who work full-time struggle to find affordable and appropriate housing, every solution possible will be required to get thousands of people experiencing homelessness off the street, including these tiny homes. The only proven solution to homelessness is housing (see: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) and it is proven to cost MUCH less for cities to house people than to have them on the street. I applaud the creators and supporters of this village for thinking of one more creative solution to get our equally beloved community members without homes into them, and into places of stability and safety where they can work to process the inevitable trauma of homelessness and find stability and independence in their lives.

What do you think of the tiny home village? Will it help Denver's homeless situation? What other projects would you like to see? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com. See our slideshow of the tiny home village expansion here.

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