A homeless advocacy coalition took it to the federal government and won. But, it may be more of a lesson in government accountability than David versus Goliath.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless won a court battle late last month after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finally declared a 59-acre Lakewood parcel near the Denver Federal Center suitable for use by the homeless.
The U.S. General Services Administration — the government’s landlord — had planned to sell the land in an auction in July, but instead found itself in a federal court, which halted the auction, after the homeless coalition filed a formal objection. The coalition argued letting the sale proceed as planned effectively would sidestep a 1987 law that requires the agency to make the land available for serving the homeless.
HUD announced the site was suitable for homeless housing in a Sept. 25 letter, but is expected to formally label the land as such on Friday, according to the Lakewood Sentinel. Then the next step is for the coalition, or other homeless organizations, to formally declare to the Department of Health and Human Services their interest in the parcel and request the site be transferred to them.
“CCH intends to request that the site be transferred to CCH to provide a range of supportive housing, health, employment, and other supportive services for homeless families and individuals in Lakewood and throughout the Metro Denver area,” the coalition said in a press statement.
A July coalition press release labeled the proposed auction as riven with confusion, unanswered questions and possibly conflicting decisions by the federal agencies involved. HUD had initially declared the site “unsuitable for use to assist the homeless,” while GSA determined that it was more than suitable for high-end residential and commercial development, the coalition said.
“As homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are increasing significantly throughout Jefferson County and the metro Denver area, we believe that this site will help us make a dent in our commitment to reduce and end homelessness,” John Parvensky, CEO and President of CCH, said following the recent court judgement. “We look forward to working with local partners, government entities, elected officials, and the community to make sure we make the very best use of the site in our continued effort to provide lasting solutions for homeless and at-risk families.”
As of Sept. 28, there were seven bids on the land, with the highest offer reaching $6 million, the Lakewood Sentinel reports.