Denver could soon see its first secure outdoor campsite

DENVER — For months, the city of Denver has failed to lock down a safe outdoor camping site for homeless people. But now the First Baptist Church across from the State Capitol may become the first.

“It’s not about outdoing anyone else in the city government or any of the city’s service providers. There is a need right now in our city,” said First Baptist Church minister Brian Henderson.

Plans are still in their early stages, but Henderson said it will be very different from what people imagine.

“Individuals won’t be able to bring guests or other people into the SOS, they won’t be able to store all their stuff, they will have space inside their shelter to keep essentials but we are not creating not a space that resemble what we have seen on our streets,” Henderson said.

These are the shelters that about 40 women would live in in the parking lot of the church that would be surrounded by fences and monitored 24/7.

For Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods President Travis Leiker, the feedback so far has been positive.

“What I hear is that we want it and what I hear from the community is that what they don’t want is unregulated, uncontrolled and uncontrolled encampments. The city is by no means absent from the conversation I think you see now that there is again a gathering of advocacy groups like ours, neighbors, faith communities in a way that maybe we weren’t working together three, four or five months ago,” Leiker said.

Virtual community meetings are expected to take place within the next two weeks.

If all goes well, the church says a camp could be in place by early December.

Sally J. Minick