The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless thought it had an answer to helping get homeless people off the street when it proposed building temporary and permanent housing that would ultimately house …
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The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless thought it had an answer to helping get homeless people off the street when it proposed building temporary and permanent housing that would ultimately house 1,000 people on the 59 undeveloped acres near the Federal Center in Lakewood.
But an outcry of opposition from neighbors and city leaders over the project’s size and location, along with unfavorable court rulings have killed the coalition’s plans.
Because the land is owned by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the site sale is being overseen by the government. Lakewood’s zoning for the land calls for it to be used for a range of commercial uses, with multi-family residential also being allowed.
The coalition specifically proposed building temporary housing for about 250 homeless people that could include trailers, geodesic domes and large tents, and 500 to 600 permanent affordable housing units in apartment buildings, capable of housing 1,000 people down the line.
The online auction for the site, asking $6 million, was open until July 17, but received no bids. As of press time the GSA has not indicated if the auction will reopen.
Following is a timeline of proposals since 2015:
• October 2015: The 59 acres are put forth as a joint project between Lakewood and the General Services Administration. In exchange for the land, the city would build a new laboratory at the Federal Center.
• January 2016: Due to concern from residents and some city council members about a lack of information and time to do the necessary groundwork, negotiations end.
• May 10, 2017: The property is listed for sale in an online auction.
Bidders must make a deposit of $95,000 to show they are serious about taking ownership.
• July 25, 2017: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless files an injunction against the GSA, asking to halt the sale until the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a chance to determine if the land could be used for homeless services.
• July 27, 2017: The original auction had been scheduled to close on this date, but the government extends the auction until Sept. 8 while it reviews the coalition’s injunction.
• Sept. 25, 2017: HUD releases a letter stating the land could be considered for homeless services and orders the GSA to cancel its online auction.
• Oct. 6, 2017: HUD formally pronounces the land suitable for homeless housing, giving the coalition time to submit an application to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding its interest in the property.
• Dec. 26, 2017: The coalition submits initial application to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take ownership of the property.
• Jan. 23, 2018: HHS approves the plan submitted by the coalition, which moves the organization on to the next step: supplying detailed financing and operational plans for the $120 million project by March 9, again to the HHS.
• Feb. 8, 2018: Coalition hosts first large-scale open meeting with the community about the project at Alameda High School in Lakewood. Community concern over the plan is apparent.
• March 9, 2018: Coalition submits expanded plan to HHS.
• March 23, 2018: HHS denies coalition’s project application. In its denial, the department states “the final application is not approvable because it failed to meet threshold requirements related to the CCH’s (coalition’s) ability to finance the development and operation of the approved program of use. More specifically … many aspects of the submitted financial plan are either incomplete or speculative.”
• May 3, 2018: Colorado files a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Colorado and a Motion for a Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to stop the public auction of the federal center property and reevaluate the Coalition’s financing plan to develop the property for affordable housing and services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness in the area.
• June 25, 2018: U.S. District Court of Colorado rules against the Coalition in its restraining order request. Organization continues evaluating its options under the ruling about the best way to move forward.
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