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Colorado Safe Parking Initiative searching for new funding source after Denver City Council redirected money

Colorado Safe Parking Initiative funding cut.jpg
Posted at 12:00 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 14:00:45-05

DENVER — Last year, Denver City Council approved a $600,000 contract extension for the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative. The money would've helped the program expand the number of parking lots it operates in the city for those in their vehicles who need a place to park every night.

Curtis said she was elated when she was told the city was approving a contract extension for the program months ago.

She and other leaders had already begun making plans to add more safe parking sites in Denver. Currently, there are two in the city and 11 others across the metro.

However, the additional money was cut and now, program leaders are left scrambling.

"My heart sank, in a way it hasn't in a really long time," Terrell Curtis, the executive director for the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative, said after finding out the program wouldn't be getting the additional funds after all.

Denver7 reached out to the city's department of housing stability to ask why they decided to redirect the funds that were initially going to the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative.

The department offered the following statement:

Shelter alternatives like safe parking play an important role in resolving episodes of homelessness in Denver. The Department of Housing Stability is committed to the ongoing operations of the existing Safe Parking Program at two established sites. We are currently working on a contract amendment with the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative in order to continue these services while using our limited resources in the most effective way for the thousands of Denverites facing homelessness.

While Curtis is disappointed in the redirection of funds, she's mainly worried about what it means for those who depend on the safe parking sites.

Matt and his dog Luna are just two of the few who call the safe parking site in the Capitol Hill neighborhood home.

"It's urban camping for me," Matt said.

He ended up living in his vehicle after a workers' compensation situation led to even more misfortune.

"I got evicted from my apartment and like the next day got a $10,000 check from the work comp company," Matt said.

For Matt, and those he parks alongside every night, this parking site has meant everything.

"A place to park their car, having a social worker with the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative to help them get mental health," he said.

The redirection of funds has also brought on worry for Matt, who is the lot operator, as well as a resident.

He worries what the changes may mean when it comes to what the program will be able to help pay for.

In the past, the program has helped pay for the car insurance and registration of those parking at the sites. They've helped pay for housing deposits for those ready to move on from the parking sites, as well as case management and mental health needs.

Curtis said the loss of additional funds means they can no longer pay for all of those things.

She's hoping she and other program leaders can find the funds elsewhere, so they can continue helping those currently staying at the sites, and those who'd like to stay in them in the future.

Colorado Safe Parking Initiative searching for new funding source