Colorado Collaboration Creating Safe Outdoor Spaces for Homeless
Currently, there are nearly 10,000 homeless people in the state of Colorado, with approximately 1,000 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Denver alone.
In 2020, Colorado Village Collaborative began using ice fishing tents to create safe outdoor spaces for people living without shelter in Denver. The idea of the alternative sheltering model is to help transition people from living on the streets to stable housing.
People who move into these short-term structures are given a cot and sleeping bag upon entry. In addition to providing a covered shelter, the safe spaces also offer critical resources and services to those individuals staying there. The small housing communities are secure and staffed 24 hours a day.
Another positive impact of the small fishing tent villages is that they reduce the number of unsanctioned homeless camps in neighborhoods throughout the city. In addition, the safe spaces have helped to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 amongst unhoused people in Denver.
The first two Safe Outdoor Spaces were installed in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in December 2020. Those two sites eventually started winding down operations in May 2021 and two new safe spaces launched in June 2021.
The organization is hoping that its model will grow throughout the city and spread to other places in Colorado where homelessness is a major problem.