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69 businesses in Denver receive grant to offset negative impacts of homeless encampments

69 businesses in Denver receive grant to offset negative impacts of homeless encampments
69 businesses in Denver receive grant to offset negative impacts of homeless encampments 02:37

More than 60 businesses in Denver have received grants to help with the impacts of homeless encampments in the city.

From restaurants to boutiques and bridal shops, 69 businesses are getting an upwards of up to $15,000 to help them bounce back from negative impacts they encountered due to the unhoused community.

The money was determined based on their annual gross income and businesses within two blocks away from the encampments were asked to provide evidence of plummeting sales and safety issues.


Robert Herrera has been managing the restaurant since his father's passing. 

"This is Denver, this is real Denver, the heart of the city," said Herrera. 

Up until a few years ago, mainly during the pandemic, Herrera says things changed and Downtown Denver did not feel the same anymore. This includes the flood of homeless encampments in the area which impacted their restaurant. 

"We would all drive up to work and every day we were cleaning because people had been here. We actually had people camp out outside of our patio area," said Herrera. 


This includes cleaning up things such as drug use and feces. They even had to clean up the area around their dumpsters. Herrera adds that homeless residents would dig through their trash and make a mess. 

This forced the restaurant owners to make major safety adjustments. 

"We've installed cameras, which we never had before and have added more lighting to help us keep the crime out," said Herrera. 

According to Herrera, these adjustments cost the restaurant thousands of dollars as they lost customers due to safety concerns. 


"We got questions from our customers all the time, like 'how are you dealing with this?''' he expressed. 

However, a $15,000 grant from the city is helping offset those costs.

"It's getting better," said Herrera.

Though it is still an uphill battle, other businesses told CBS News Colorado reporter Jasmine Arenas that they're thankful for the grant, but the damage is done already. 


Nelly Bernal, a small business owner of a boutique set up just a block away from the Denver Rescue Mission, had plans to shut down her business by the end of the year. 

"I've seen it all, I am right by the shelters, the feces, the drug usage," said Bernal. 

She adds the encampments have made her lose out on business plenty of times. 

"I've had a customer with piles of clothes ready to check out and a guy comes in and solicits them and I never saw that customer come in again," said Bernal.


Bernal also received a $15,000 grant and says this was her determining factor in whether to close her store or remain open. 

"We would've had to make a decision by September which is when our lease is expected to end. So, it actually did help us make the decision to keep it open," said Bernal. 

With the city stepping in, both businesses remain hopeful for the future.

Bernal looks to use the funds to remain in business, start a men's line, pay her staff and invest in helping those who aspire to own their own boutique by taking them to conferences. 


"I am looking forward to the summer and getting people to come into the shop," said Bernal. 

Herrera looks to use some of the funds to pay his staff and make some repairs after a pipe burst on Jan. 16 that led to the restaurant closing temporarily. 

"We will continue to do everything we can to keep things going," said Herrera. 

The grants are a result from federal relief funds that's been assisting businesses since 2022 as a part of the city's plan to help them survive and thrive after the pandemic.

In the last two years, nearly $6.7 million in federal funds have been granted to Denver businesses to help them come back from the impacts of the pandemic. 

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