Today, residents of the Quality Inn protective action hotel met with the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST), and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) who holds the contract and does case management for this hotel. Residents called for this meeting on Monday and we (HAND) were able to secure the meeting for Friday. The goal was for residents to speak to their situation and for everyone – City, CCH, residents, advocates – to put our brains and resources together to come up with solutions to ensure every resident moves from the hotel into appropriate housing. You can watch video of the meeting here (note: the meeting was “zoom bombed” so there are some disruptions near the begining of the video).
Instead City officials and CCH leaders spoke to all the reasons they “can’t”, or won’t, find housing for these vulnerable people and told them they just need to go to the shelters. In spite of numerous residents saying loud and clear that they cannot and will not go to a shelter, the City ignored these residents’ words and just repeated plans to send people to shelters. In spite of numerous residents saying loud and clear they needed more caseworkers on site to help folks navigate the housing search (especially those with vouchers still looking for housing), residents were told that’s not necessary and wouldn’t be done. In response to questions about why the lease with the hotel can’t be extended, they said the lease is up and also CCH does not have the staff to cover it so they won’t extend. This tells us that the September 16th deadline is not a hard deadline coming from a sale or refusal from the hotel owner, but rather one coming from CCH.
Ana Miller, current resident, summed up the situation for many: “we have illnesses, we have medical issues, that’s why we were put into the hotel… most everyone is going to be put in shelters which will exacerbate all of their illnesses… I know for a fact that those shelters are not safe, they’re disgusting, they’re dirty, I’ve been assaulted, I’ve been robbed… People who are elderly are robbed and assaulted… You originally gave us notices that say 16th of September and now you have people who have nowhere to go over a labor day weekend making it harder to move their property… I’ve heard murmurs from staff saying ‘holy crap this is falling apart’.”
CCH Vice President of Community Services had no shortage of condolences for the residents’ situation, but an absence of solutions: “CCH started this project in 2020, we opened 800 units throughout the city, during the closures each one has been traumatic and anxiety-inducing… The feelings and the realities are truly terrible… There’s not enough housing for people, we’re faced with some serious injustice… During past closures we’ve had more flexibility with moving folks into housing… With this particular hotel, we knew this closure would be particularly difficult as we don’t have other hotels to move folks into… I want to acknowledge how terrible and difficult this is.”
As houseless people and housing advocates, we know all too well the shortage of affordable housing and all the barriers to housing!! We totally understand the challenges the City and CCH bring up regarding finding housing for all Quality Inn residents! However, when you are houseless, you do not have the choice like the City or CCH do to just say “it’s impossible” and go back to life – your life is the struggle. The City must start acting like houseless people and keep fighting until they find housing for all.
Latest numbers received from the City show 120 Quality Inn Residents are getting kicked to shelters or nowhere. The City and CCH have the resources to house these 120 elderly, disabled people. It is only a question of will they…
HAND and Quality Residents discussed possible solutions to secure housing for all residents after the meeting closed (which was supposed to be discussed in the meeting with HOST and CCH).
- Extend the hotel contract until December (or longer)
- When asked, what is the harm in extending the contract?
- The response: The lease with the owner
- To which a resident responded: “I’m sure the owner would have no problem taking that money…”
- The follow-up response: We’ve already looked into the extension of this lease, it’s related to CCH staffing and resources… It was originally extended for September 2021, this has been scheduled for quite some time… Phased closure – rather than having a date when it’s closer to winter
- When asked, what is the harm in extending the contract?
- Identify properties for which the City could masterlease/buy and rent to Quality Residents (and others) at affordable rates (⅓ of income)
- Utilize temporary hotels while securing contract for the City to buy existing hotels (including the Stay Inn which the City is supposed to be closing on this year)
- Investigate utilizing bridge housing vouchers to secure immediate temporary housing
- Investigate availability at Roadway hotel
- Investigate availability at CCH properties – current and upcoming (including new building behind Stout Street Health, Fusion studios, and other properties with openings)
- Activate a contract with Hometowne Studios locations (a hotel that has reached out wanting to help by contracting with the City or other agency to house these residents)
- Activate the contract with a social enterprise group who has offered to help regarding housing navigation for people with vouchers
- Provide additional support for bilingual/ Spanish speaking and ASL case managers to support non-English speakers and the deaf
- Need destination locations to have support with Spanish and deaf translators
- Include intersectional identities & needs as justification to extend
- Longer term goal – include this in training
- Investigate options for couples that would not separate them
- Provide more case managers
- There are currently 2 quitting at a critical time
- Secure mail option at the place Quality residents move to ensure mail is received
- Critical mail such as SSI processes has been lost due to not getting mail on site; this has been a barrier for finishing the housing process
- Allow residents to speak about their housing needs “We are more concerned with a place to stay than the data about me”
These are just some possible solutions HAND and residents have come up with that could ensure all residents have safe housing.
On Wednesday September 7th from 6-8pm at Confluence Park (right by the hotel) we will be holding a community meeting with Quality Inn residents and the broader community to discuss solutions to ensure all residents can move into appropriate housing before the hotel closes. Please come and bring your housing ideas and connections!
Onwards Quality housing for all…!!