On September 16th, the largest protective action hotel in Denver, the Quality Inn, will be closed prematurely in efforts to "stagger" hotel closings before winter. These had been opened during the coronavirus pandemic to protect Denver's most vulnerable people - the elderly, disabled, those with chronic serious illness. A few weeks ago, Housekeys Action Network Denver (HAND) surveyed 39 hotel residents and found that 12.7% had housing lined up - a number comparable to the City's data of 13.1%, or only 20 residents. Then we found out only 13 people were being moved to other protective action hotels - the remaining 120 were expected to go to the streets or shelters, despite still being at high risk due to their conditions. To make things worse, couples who have been married for years are being told to go to separate facilities, and those with pets must get rid of them. Now that the arbitrary closing date is upon is, the City and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless have refused to collaborate with residents to offer them the support needed. The responsibility has now fallen to us, the people, to be there for our most vulnerable neighbors.
Here's what some residents have shared about the situation:
- "You're gonna throw me back on the streets, but I've never been homeless... For couples to break a family up, that's messed up. You wouldn't want your family broken up like this. This is horrible. This is a horrible way to live... They're trying to tell me that there's not a facility that will take animals either. So I might have to get rid of my animals. No, that's like telling me to get rid of your kid... I have medical issues. I have heart problems. I have a heart murmur and I can't do this. I have too much anxiety. I'm suicidal... They're not doing nothing for us really. I mean, why? Cause it's last minute. It's last minute."
- “My problem is I have a heart problem. I got a heart murmur. I got a torn valve. I'm illiterate, I can't read or write very well, but they're kicking me to some place away from my wife when we're married. My wife is my pacifier because without her, I wouldn't know what to do…”
- “They said, as soon as you get your vouchers, you're gonna come and move in. But I don't know, that can be two, three months down the line... But we've been trying and trying and trying”
- “I just don't wanna be in the streets no more. I've been in those shelters so many times, people give fights in women's shelter and I can't handle the anxiety, and my husband has heart problems and I worry about him and I worry about me.”
- “I've had my voucher since April. And if my case manager was any kind of a case manager, she would have helped me get a place by now. I should have been one of the first people. I should have had a place since May or June at the latest…”
- “We can't go to a shelter. I cannot be separated away from my angel head. The reason why is because I have epilepsy and disability and she's my caregiver. So that's the main reason that I do not wanna be in the shelter... [in reference to pets not being allowed] nothing's gonna happen with the dog, I will not let anything happen to that dog.”
- “The hospital got me in here cuz my leg. And the hospital helped me get in here, but now I'm gonna be kicked out on the street again.”
Residents have shared with HAND several items that we are asking the community to unite over and make possible:
- Storage fees
- Bus passes
- ADA accessible tents
- Camping supplies (as last resort, for those who would end up needing them - one of which is a deaf elderly man in a wheelchair)
- Camping supplies for those who will have to live in their cars, such as: portable power banks to charge electronics, heated blankets, carbon monoxide detectors, batteries, emergency thermal blankets, hand/ toe warmers, etc.
- And of course... HOUSING! Rooms to rent/ cheap apartments under $1000
Please support your unhoused neighbors in their great time of need by offering what you can to make these items possible. You can also reach out to HAND to find more ways to support this week at www.housekeysactionnetwork.com
Donations from GoFundMe will be sent to Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), which is HAND's fiscal sponsor offering tax deductible status. All donated funds will then be directed to HAND to support the direct needs of residents. WRAP was created to expose and eliminate the root causes of civil and human rights abuses of people experiencing poverty and houselessness in our communities.
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