Colorado Village Collaborative Will Open The Temporary Housing By May
A village of small residences is coming to Elyria-Swansea with operators hoping it makes big changes for homeless people.
The City Council in March approved a two-year lease agreement on city-owned property at 4201 Monroe St., with the option to extend it another two years, for Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) to operate a new tiny home village.
Beloved Community Village tiny home site has operated at 4400 N. Pearl St. in Globeville since May 2019 and will move to the Monroe site by the end of April. The new lease is for $20 on a one-acre lot in Elyria-Swansea.
The Monroe site will expand the village from 19 to 24 tiny homes with the ability to house up to 30 people. The site could also add two more tiny homes later, and CVC has stated it could operate on another lot to the south that is essentially the same size.
“Our tiny homes are more autonomous, so individuals need to be able to have all of their daily living needs met,” said Dorothy Leyba, the tiny home village director for CVC. “Individuals do have to sign an agreement that they are working to meet goals … of housing stability.”
To qualify to live at the tiny home site, people must prove they make less than 30 percent of the average median income, which is a salary of about $22,000 a year for one person, according to Denver’s 2021 income limits.
Residents sign six-month contracts with options to renew after that, but Leyba said the nonprofit’s goal is to get people into permanent housing within a year.
Leyba said CVC will staff the site for 10 hours per day, seven days a week and will provide its own maintenance and utility services including showers, internet, and laundry, according to the nonprofit.
CVC was granted $1 million by the City Council in 2021 to operate its tiny home sites through the end of 2023 at Monroe and another already in operation at 2251 E. 37th Ave., The Women’s Village at Clara Brown Commons.
Utility connections are available, despite the site being an empty lot at this time, Leyba said.
There will also be a 1,500-square-foot community garden that will be split within the tiny home village and outside the walls with the public.
Some residents aren’t liking the prospect of putting in the tiny home village. Lisa Ozzello, who lives a block over at 41st Avenue and Madison Street, said at a recent community meeting people in opposition couldn’t effectively communicate their viewpoint.
“It was presented as a done deal, and we got notices that we were all going to talk about it, and what we got was a lecture,” Ozzello told The G.E.S. Gazette. “It’s like couldn’t you do something nicer or make an asset instead of saying we’re going to put units on the block and no thought of what does the community need?”
Ozzello said she’d rather see the area maintained as a public park, and she said the neighborhood has already taken on its fair share of people who are struggling to find housing.
The G.E.S. Gazette reached out to other sources who Ozzello said may not approve of the tiny home site, but those calls and emails had not been returned by the paper’s print deadline.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca declined to comment on the site at this time, saying it’s the nearby residents who should decide whether they want the tiny home village.
There’s already a series of damaged or broken-down trailers and RVs at 42nd and Monroe where people appear to be living. Some of them are equipped with propane tanks that sit on the outside. Many of them have broken windows and messages spray painted on them.
Leyba said criminal history does not necessarily prohibit someone from being admitted to the tiny home site, and she said they try to work with individuals to help them find shelter or temporary housing.
“A lot of criminal history is a barrier to housing, and so what we’re working on is helping them overcome those barriers,” Leyba said. “Some of the success stories have been individuals that have finished out their probation period and now are able to access housing.”
Leyba said CVC is offering services to people already living there, such as referrals to sanctioned overnight parking operators and other shelter or housing networks.
As of March 31, Leyba said CVC and the registered neighborhood organization EGS and Partners have finalized a draft “good neighbor agreement,” which is not required for the tiny home village to open but does show conditions of the site the nonprofit agrees to meet.
According to CVC, tiny homes can be built for about $15,000. Five of the tiny homes constructed for the new site were created by students at Cherry Creek High School in December.
CVC also operates several sanctioned campsites at Regis University, the Denver Human Services east branch building, and in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Eric Heinz is a journalist based in Denver and a frequent contributor to The Denver North Star and The G.E.S. Gazette newspapers.