“Until last Friday, there had never been such a structure approved.” -Cole Chandler, Beloved Community Mennonite Church.
After three years of hard work by the homeless community and their allies, Denver’s Department of Community Planning and Development issued a first-of-its-kind permit to Colorado Village Collaborative to build a tiny home village at 3733 Walnut Street. This marks a historic victory in the struggle for creative, dignified solutions to Denver’s interconnected crises of housing, homelessness, and economics.
“The zoning code has been a huge hurdle, the fundraising’s been a huge hurdle; another hurdle, still yet to come, is getting this through the building department.”
KGNU’s Maeve Conran sat down to discuss the process of getting the Tiny Home Villages approved with Beloved Community Mennonite pastor, Cole Chandler. With the zoning approval, one of those hurdles has been cleared and now the focus is on getting past the next challenges using crowdfunding donations like the Denver’s First Tiny Home Village Go Fund Me page.
The approval arrived on the eve of the National Day of Action for Housing, which is just five days before three homeless people stand trial for citation’s under Denver’s Unauthorized Camping Ban. Those who cannot find somewhere safe to sleep indoors are criminalized for using blankets, sleeping bags, and other survival measures. The project — Beloved Community Village — is a response to these issues.
“The model that we proposed is that we can house 15-20 people experiencing homelessness at any given time…that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.”
In 2016, 5,467 individuals were counted homeless on one night in the Denver metro area. The number of people who become homeless over a year can soar into the tens of thousands. Shelters are not homes and not particularly well equipped to provide even short-term care for many community members. Couples, people with pets, those with disabilities, people who work odd hours, the LGBTQ community, and others can have needs the shelters are not equipped to handle.
“Well, for those 15-20 people, it’s a home. That’s the point.”
Tiny homes offer a safe, cheap, inclusive, and rapidly buildable alternative. They believe this village is only the first of many to come, and this permit is only the first step toward developing new zoning that will allow for permanent tiny home communities to help restore dignity, community, and safe spaces to help the homeless in our community.
There will be a Tiny Home Blues benefit to help raise money for the new community. The benefit will feature art, music, dancing, and a Q&A with village organizers and residents at the Beloved Community Mennonite Church on April 9th, from 5:00-7:00 pm 3001 S. Acoma Street, Englewood, CO 80110.
Donations can be made at Denver’s First Tiny Home Village, which is a Go Fund Me page raising money for the first of the planned villages.