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Homeless advocacy group back in court over Lakewood federal land sale

Author: Adam McCoy - May 1, 2018 - Updated: May 1, 2018

The U.S. General Services Administration has proposed auctioning off 59 acres of federal land in Lakewood. (GSA)

The controversy over the proposed sale of a 59-acre site near the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood has taken a new turn.

Advocacy group Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) announced Monday it had filed a lawsuit in federal court in hopes of stalling an auction of the federal land.

It’s a throwback to last July, when CCH sued the U.S. General Services Administration, the government’s landlord, to stop sale of the site. It argued that letting sale of the land proceed as planned effectively would sidestep a 1987 law that requires the agency make the land available for serving the homeless.

CCH eventually won that battle, and the site was declared suitable for use by the homeless.

This week, CCH again finds itself in court, asking a federal judge to halt an auction of the land. In the lawsuit, CCH argues the law requires the federal land be used for public health purposes, including the “use of surplus property to assist the homeless,” according to KCNC-CBS4.

In a statement obtained by the Denver TV station, CCH said:

“Today’s filing was to give the U.S. Attorney’s office the required notice of our intent to file a motion for an injunction against GSA’s auction of the property and HHS’s denial of due process for us regarding our financing plan. We believe it is our duty to challenge these actions in order to protect the rights and safety of hundreds of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Jefferson County and the Lakewood area who are often invisible and forgotten.”

The suit follows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejecting the advocacy group’s plans for a sweeping campus for the homeless after reportedly finding issues with its financing proposal.

CCH’s  preliminary plans for the site included a solar-powered campus with trailers, geodesic domes and tents as an initial build-out, eventually adding some 600 affordable and supportive housing units.

Those plans have vexed Lakewood officials and some residents who have argued the advocacy group needs to find a more appropriate setting for its proposed homeless campus, the campus would stretch city resources like police thin and that it could attract what one resident at the time called “mentally ill people, drug addicts and who knows what else, all of whom have been chased out of Denver,” to the city.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.