A proposed “micro-community” for unhoused people in Denver’s South Perch will likely be dropped

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston is expected to announce early Wednesday that plans for a proposed “micro community” for unhoused people at 1380 South Birch Street in southeast Denver will not move forward, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision-making process. .

The proposal has met with strong opposition from neighbors who fear rising crime rates, declining property values ​​and increased traffic. If the plan for the small community of South Birch is cancelled, it will be a major milestone For the second time in a week The Johnston administration backed away from creating a small community for unhoused people who faced fierce opposition in the neighborhood.

Last week, city officials withdrew their proposal to create a micro-community at 5500 East Yale Avenue in the Holly Hills neighborhood.

Related: The community is reacting to Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s call to save the small community site near Yale and I-25

A city spokesperson said the site was canceled “based on criteria we set which include economic viability, expected return of the site, consideration of other viable options, as well as community feedback.”

The South Birch Street location is in a neighborhood dominated by single-family homes with a school nearby.

“It’s just a recipe for disaster,” said Phil Roper, who owns a rental home next door to the site.

It is currently an empty parking lot surrounded by a fence. The property is owned by a real estate development company that has indicated to neighbors that it will not rent the property to the city unless the neighbors support the proposed small community. The city’s proposal was for 30 to 40 tiny homes for the unhoused.

“You’re in the middle of the neighborhood,” Roper said.

“Whatever it takes to serve those few individuals is going to impact this entire neighborhood, and that doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s not my problem. That’s the mayor’s problem,” Roper said. “He can figure it out but don’t put him near me.”

“This is crazy,” said Eli Richardson, who owns a home 300 feet from the proposed site. “You’re just moving around a problem, not solving it.” She said she bought her home in 2021 because of the safety of the neighborhood, which she believes will be diminished by the small community.

In an interview last week, Cole Chandler, a senior adviser to Mayor Johnston on homelessness issues, noted to CBS News Colorado that the South Perch site has drawbacks that may detract from its viability: “When we look at this site, it doesn’t have the return Which we would like to see.”

Related: Denver Mayor Mike Johnston speaks face-to-face about migrant response, housing and public safety

At the time, Chandler said the city “had not made a decision” about moving forward with construction on the site. Chandler said the city is considering the moral obligation to force people to stay home versus residents’ concerns. Johnston has It has pledged to house 1,000 people who are currently unhoused By December 31. As of the first week of November, 200 homeless individuals have been housed, Chandler said.

Denver City Councilman Paul Cashman, whose district includes the South Perch site, said it was “not surprising” to hear that the South Perch site would likely be unsuccessful. He said he always had reservations about the location and hopes the city “comes up with a location that better fits the mayor’s small community plan.”

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