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Sanctioned homeless encampment arrives in affluent South Park Hill neighborhood

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DENVER (KDVD) – Homeowners in the affluent South Park Hill neighborhood told FOX31 they were surprised to learn they would soon be living next to a homeless settlement.

The temporary facility is slated to open this summer on the grounds of Park Hill United Methodist Church at 5209 Montview Boulevard.

Those suffering from homelessness will be moved from Capitol Hill to the South Park Hill location further from downtown Denver and into a more suburban atmosphere. South Park Hill is known for its large brick houses and is home to some of Denvers’ elite. Even a US senator has made the region his home.

By June 1, a full-service camp will be established in a parking lot behind the church, organizers said. The configuration will remain until December 31st.

At first I was a little upset, said Rich Giannotti, a South Park Hill resident.

The news surprised Giannotti and many others. Most South Park Hill residents did not speak on camera when asked to share their thoughts.

His NIMBY not in my garden, Giannotti explained. So if the closer you are to the church, the more affected you are.

While all of the residents who spoke to FOX31 on Wednesday expressed compassion for those who are not housed, they also expressed concern. A commonly expressed concern and criticism is that moving camps from one place to another does not solve the larger societal problem of homelessness.

I think that’s a plus, said church member Tony Sauls. I’m sure there’s going to be a major concern.

Sauls has lived in this area for 30 years. He said that the effort is part of what Christians are called to do.

Helping the needs of our citizens within our community, he explained.

Through a partnership with the city, the Colorado Village Collaborative is responsible for the location. He said he was working hard to get people out of homelessness. The organization promises that its secure outdoor spaces are staffed and managed 24/7, with bathrooms, showers, garbage and laundry services, and COVID-19 testing. There will be 45 separate shelters serving 50 people outside the church, according to the organization.

Residents said they were eager to make their voices heard at upcoming community meetings.

People leaving [to these meetings] shouldn’t feel intimidated by asking a question… as long as the question is based on solving the problem, Giannotti said.

The following event and meetings have been scheduled:

  • Saturday May 1 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Visit a secure outdoor area at 1595 N. Pearl St.
  • Thursday May 13 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Community information meeting via Zoom
  • Saturday May 15 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Community information meeting via Zoom

More information can be found at https://www.coloradovillagecollaborative.org/safe-outdoor-space

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