Denver is considering hiring a contractor amid opposition to building tiny home shelters for the unhoused

Denver is considering whether to pay an affiliate of Clayton Properties Group, a contracting firm based in Maryville, Tenn., up to $6 million to build about 300 tiny home shelters for some of the city’s homeless population.

The contract, also known as a master purchase order, was entered into with Oakwood Homes, a local subsidiary of Clayton Properties Group. The idea is being discussed by the Denver City Council as Mayor Mike Johnston’s House1000 initiative faces a barrage of criticism from advocates and community members alike.

Neighborhoods like the Golden Triangle and Overland have opposed hosting one of Johnston’s proposed micro-communities with varying degrees of success, while advocates like the group Housekeys Action Network Denver have called the initiative misguided, because unhoused people are provided with temporary shelter, such as tiny home shelters. , instead of permanent housing options. A subsidiary of Clayton Properties Group in North Carolina has been accused in a federal lawsuit of violating the Clean Water Act.

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A resolution approving the purchase order passed unanimously during a Denver City Council Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee meeting on Wednesday. It still must be approved by the full City Council before it takes effect, and a final vote could take place within the next month. Cole Chandler, Johnston’s senior advisor on solving homelessness, added that another requisition contract will be presented to the City Council podium in the coming weeks.

There is a clear need for shelters in Denver with over 1,400 people living homeless on a given night. According to the latest point in time. But some people worry that Denver is moving too quickly toward its goal of housing 1,000 people experiencing homelessness by the end of the year, causing the city to miss some details along the way.

During Wednesday’s meeting, committee Chair Stacey Gilmore, who represents District 11, said she received an offer for a briefing from the Department of Finance at 1:20 p.m. the previous Friday, and requested that future briefings be held at least two weeks before the committee meets.

“It would be appropriate for everyone to take that time and provide timely briefings,” Gilmore said.

70 square feet

Chandler explained that Denver chose to provide small home shelters because they are designed for “rapid assistance” to unhoused people. For example, tiny houses can be delivered fully assembled from a warehouse to a small community, and guests of the community receive comprehensive services during their stay.

The tiny houses themselves are designed for single occupancy, and are about 70 square feet with a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet, 6 inches, according to the scope of work in the contract. They also come with smoke alarms, an electric heat source, and indoor and outdoor lights.

Chandler said the city is considering deploying Clayton Tiny Home Shelters in small community locations such as 12033 E. 38th Ave. (site of the former Stay Inn), 2301 S. Santa Fe Drive, and 1375 N. Elati St.

Councilwoman Jamie Torres, D-District 3, said she was glad to see the purchase order advanced because it could provide unhoused community members with better shelter options than what the city currently provides. Unhoused advocates told the City Council Monday they want more permanent housing options outside of platform shelters and tiny homes. Denverite reported.

“The ability to have other options in the market is really powerful,” Torres said.

Runoff in Martin Branch, North Carolina, is allegedly from the Sweetbrier development site. (Image from court notes)

North Carolina Claims

However, some supporters remain unconvinced by this strategy. Advocates like HAND organizer Therese Howard told Colorado Newsline that Denver’s penchant for tiny home shelters is a “severe misuse of resources.” She added that she is also concerned about the due diligence Denver does on contractors before offering them a contract because of the varying prices the city pays for similar products.

Advocates previously expressed concerns about a similar $7 million contract Denver agreed to with Pallet PBS Inc. in August to build 200 small home shelters. Denverite reported. The city expects to spend about $3.5 million of that total on buildings, or about $17,500 per shelter, Chandler said. The contract with Oakwood Homes estimates the construction cost for each unit at approximately $20,000.

“They’re clearly looking for quick fixes, and we’re getting some questionable quality-to-cost comparisons because of that,” Howard said.

Chandler said the city received nine offers for the project before settling on Clayton Properties Group to provide the shelters. Howard added that the selection of Clayton Properties Group raises questions about the level of due diligence Denver is performing on contractors involved in this effort.

In September, a non-profit environmental advocacy group in Durham, North Carolina, called Sound Rivers. File a federal lawsuit The allegation is that a subsidiary of Clayton Properties Group called Mungo Homes violated the Clean Water Act more than 20 times in a calendar year as the company cleared land to develop a 616-home subdivision called Sweetbrier.

The lawsuit alleges that clearing the more than 200-acre site caused mud and dirt to flow into Martin Branch and Hurricane Creek, two waterways surrounding the work site. Martin Branch and Hurricane Creek both feed into Lick Creek before connecting with Falls Lake, the primary source of drinking water for more than half a million people between Raleigh and Zebulon in eastern North Carolina. NC Newsline reported.

Four of Denver’s 11 potential micro-community sites are located near the Platte River, including the proposed 2301 S. Santa Fe Drive site. None of the proposed sites would require any land grading like what happened at Sweetbrier before the tiny home community was built.

A spokesperson for Oakwood Homes told Colorado Newsline in an emailed statement that the company is “committed to maintaining the highest standards of environmental stewardship.” “By its nature, building within the facility makes the home building process more sustainable and energy efficient, significantly reducing waste,” the statement added.

Johnston told Colorado Newsline that he is “committed to holding all city contractors accountable to providing the best possible service including by enforcing a warranty requirement in the master purchase order.”

He added: “Clayton Real Estate Company will deliver the units at the specified location or locations and deliver each unit on a concrete pad.” “They will not be doing any additional work on city property.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:15 p.m., Oct. 20, 2023, to add a quote from an Oakwood Homes spokesperson.

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