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Denver City Council backs Mayor Mike Johnston's move to buy hotel for homeless

Services promised with hotels openings for unhoused as Denver providers struggle
Services promised with hotels openings for unhoused as Denver providers struggle 04:26

Denver's City Council on Monday night backed Mayor Mike Johnston's plan to acquire the Embassy Suites Hotel at 7525 East Hampden Avenue to house homeless families. It comes amid a shortage of facilities that plagues Johnston's efforts to get 1,000 homeless people off the streets of Denver by the end of the year. While the hotel's more than 200 rooms will help reach that goal, the mayor is likely to come up short in two weeks when the year ends.


 All 12 council members present at Monday night's meeting approved the idea. The city has negotiated a price of $21 million to purchase the hotel. The hotel's current owners paid $24 million 5 years ago. The city will continue to rent the hotel for $850,000 per month until the sale closes. Some residents could move in before the end of the year. The Salvation Army will be contracted to operate it for the city.

It was one of two hotel deals approved by the council Monday night. The council also backed a one year rental agreement on the Radison Hotel in the Globeville neighborhood near Interstate 25 and Interstate 70.

Residents showed up at the meeting an online to voice both support and opposition to the plan to buy the Embassy Suites. Reverend Eric Banner, a minister at First Universalist Church of Denver, said "Homelessness is a problem everywhere in our city."

"The only change that this has for me living in District 4 is to increase my sense of pride to live in such a district. That this would be in our district helping so many families in our district get back on their feet and give them a nice, safe warm place to live," said Christopher Miller.

"We know that homeless people like to use drugs," said John Case, a 45 year Hampden Heights resident. "This proposed project has no barrier to drug use. ... We've got a drug problem now, but it's going to get a lot worse."

One woman was angered and worried about the value of her property if a shelter were operated nearby.

"This is being shoved down our throats. I deeply resent it. We care deeply about our community. I live this this every day. Our home is our one asset."

She and others called for the city to put in writing that the hotel will be permanently for families.

"As long as this site is a shelter, it will be a site for families," said the mayor's homelessness advisor Cole Chandler.

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