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Lakewood councilman: Fed center site a poor choice for homeless campus

Author: Adam McCoy - March 12, 2018 - Updated: March 12, 2018

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Storm clouds build over the sign that stands outside the main entrance to the Federal Center on Friday, July 1, 2016, in Lakewood, Colo. Investigators say a worker at a U.S. Geological Survey laboratory intentionally manipulated test results for years that may have affected 24 research projects on coal, water and other topics. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)The Federal Center in Lakewood — neighbor to a proposed campus for housing the homeless. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s been the resounding message from city officials and vocal residents in Lakewood: A 59-acre site near the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood is a poor choice for a large-scale homeless facility.

The sentiment is also the upshot of a new guest commentary from Lakewood City Councilman Charley Able appearing in the Denver Post on Friday.

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.

Lakewood officials have been vocal about their opposition and some residents expressed concerns about the campus attracting riffraff to the city, including one resident characterizing it as building a ghetto in the city.

In the commentary piece, Able notes while Lakewood agrees there is a need for homeless services, the city has a responsibility to the community as a whole. Sharing a sentiment from Councilwoman Ramey Johnson, he writes the city is working with CCH to find a “more appropriate setting.”

“The Lakewood City Council is united in opposing the coalition’s plans for the Federal Center site because 59 acres is too large a parcel for the coalition to properly develop and manage,” Able writes. “The concentration of housing for the homeless on the site could quickly strain resources such as police and fire protection as well as overwhelming nearby schools and services for others in need of a helping hand.”

“It also would nullify seven years of community input into our comprehensive plan,” Able continues.

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.

Read Able’s full piece here.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.