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‘A ghetto in Lakewood’: Residents worry a campus for the homeless will bring in riff raff

Author: Adam McCoy - February 15, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

(iStock image / monstArrr_)

Lakewood is wary of a homeless advocacy group’s plans for a 59-acre site near the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood.

Earlier this month, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless revealed its preliminary plans for the Lakewood parcel, which could include a solar-powered campus with trailers, geodesic domes and tents as an initial build-out, eventually adding some 600 affordable and supportive housing units.

City officials like Councilwoman Ramey Johnson have said they aren’t on board with the proposed use of the parcel. And more recently, we learned some Lakewood residents have notions about what CCH’s plan for housing and services for those experiencing homelessness would do to the neighborhood.

The Lakewood Sentinel’s Clarke Reader has been following the developments surrounding the Federal Center parcel and detailed CCH’s first public hearing last week:

“You’re going to bring in mentally ill people, drug addicts and who knows what else, all of whom have been chased out of Denver,” said resident Jerry Wilson. “When is enough enough?”

The coalition held the meeting as part of the application process to take ownership of the property.

“With housing prices going through the roof in the Denver area, we’re seeing more and more people becoming homeless, especially families. For many, this is their first time experiencing it,” John Parvensky, the coalition’s president and CEO, said at the beginning of the meeting. “According to Jeffco schools, there are as many 2,700 homeless students in the school district, and we want to help all these people find a stable place to stay.”

Most of the speakers who opposed the proposal — many vehemently so — were less concerned about families than about homeless from other counties and cities gathering in one place in the middle of Lakewood. One speaker called it building a ghetto in the city.

Reader goes on to note other resident concerns about CCH’s plans including an increase in crime and the scale of the project.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) declared the Lakewood land suitable for use by the homeless after CCH took the federal government to court and won last fall. As part of the process of taking ownership of the site, CCH must provide its financing plans for the $120 million project to HUD by March 9.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.