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Innovative Solutions

Initial Questions to Consider

  • How do I feel after learning more about the realities and complexities of houselessness?
  • Is there particular topic that I feel drawn to or impassioned by?
  • When I think about houselessness in Denver and the United States, what do I hope for?

Innovative Solutions: Creative Alternatives to the Shelter System

While the shelter system does incredible work with the resources it had, shelters are not a good fit for everyone experiencing houselessness. Some people choose to avoid staying in shelters for the following reasons:

  • Most shelters do not allow couples to stay together.
  • Most shelters do not allow pets.
  • Some shelters may not be safe or inclusive for LGBTQIA individuals, particularly transgender individuals.
  • Some people experiencing houselessness have more possessions than will fit in the storage space shelters provide.
  • Most shelters cannot accommodate the schedules of those who work a night shift.
  • Large congregate shelters may be a difficult and triggering environment for those with certain mental health struggles.
  • Some people experiencing houselessness fear risks associated with some shelter contexts, including bed bugs and the spread of disease.

Furthermore, many shelters do great work connecting people with more longterm housing, but shelters in and of themselves are not intended to be longterm housing solutions. Although shelter space is not equivalent to the longterm housing people need, we often cite providing enough emergency shelter space as the solution to houselessness. In reality, we need emergency shelter space AND more creative solutions that fit the unique needs of each neighbor experiencing houselessness and provide different paths to longterm housing. Some of the creative solutions presented below do not provide longterm housing either, but they provide our community with more tools in the toolbox to meet the varying needs of those experiencing houselessness.

Tiny Home Villages and Safe Outdoor Spaces

Here in Denver, the Colorado Village Collaborative–in partnership with other organizations including the Interfaith Alliance of ColoradoDenver Homeless Out LoudColorado Coalition for the Homeless, and Mile High Ministries among others–is doing incredibly creative work to find solutions to unsheltered houselessness.

Congregation Land Campaign

In partnership with Radian, “a nonprofit architecture and urban design group advancing social equity by redefining how places are designed and built,” the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado “launched the Congregation Land Campaign to activate the thousands of undeveloped acres owned by faith communities for attainable affordable-housing and other community benefits.”

  • Learn more about the Congregation Land Campaign here and here.

Colorado Safe Parking Initiative

Creatively making the most of the fact that some people experiencing houselessness have access to vehicles, the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative is a “citizen-led initiative to encourage safe, legal parking locations for individuals and families experiencing homelessness who are living in vehicles in Colorado’s Front Range communities.”

Community Land Trusts

Community land trusts are a great way to maintain the affordability of housing in a particular area, and there are several organizations in Colorado doing great community land trust work.

  • Learn more about what a community land trust is. (video – 1:57 – Habitat for Humanity New York City)
  • Learn more about the Urban Land Conservancy, a local organization preserves, develops, stewards, and manages “permanently affordable housing and shared office space for nonprofits and mission-minded organizations,” often through the use of community land trusts. ULC is also the organization that owns the building in which the Dry Bones office is located!
  • Learn more about Colorado Community Land Trust, an organization that seeks to expand the availability of longterm affordable housing in Colorado.
  • Learn more about Elevation Community Land Trust, an organization that aims to make home ownership more accessible for Coloradans using the community land trust model.