To our valued members and others who have expressed concern about the continued use of the Aloft Hotel as a protective action center:
We are distributing an email from Sabrina Allie who we met with regarding the Aloft Hotel contract renewal. In this email, she describes actions that HOST is undertaking in response to our expressed concerns in an attempt to mitigate some of the impacts that this contract has had on the surrounding community.
Following that, we have provided our reply to Ms Allie, where we express appreciation for what they are doing, and express our hopes for some additional actions.
President, Upper Downtown Neighborhood Association
Email to UpDoNA from Sabrina Allie, Department of Housing Stability (HOST)
From: Allie, Sabrina – HOST CA3053 Marketing and Communications Director <Sabrina.Allie@denvergov.org>
Sent: Friday, May 27, 2022 3:42 PM
Subject: follow up re: Aloft Hotel
Rob, Lisa and Eric,
Thanks for your patience as I put together a formal response for neighbors. Please distribute this to residents of Spire and UpDoNa members, and anyone else you invited to the May 10 meeting. Thank you for your help! Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.
Neighbors of the Aloft Hotel,
The Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST) was thrilled to have so many neighbors attend our May 10 community meeting to hear from both Rob Squire of the Upper Downtown Neighborhood Association (UpDoNa) and Angie Nelson, HOST Deputy Director of Homelessness Resolution about the contract for protective action sheltering at the Aloft Hotel. We appreciate your thoughtful feedback and questions, and hope the presentations provided helpful information. We also heard several of your comments during Monday night’s City Council meeting. Those and City Council’s responses are covered in this Denverite article.
We heard your concerns and wanted to summarize and follow up with you about additional measures we commit to taking in order to address them.
First, the need for protective action rooms is still very real. Denver is seeing significant increases in COVID transmission, and our congregate shelters are now required to have all guests wear masks while inside. For those particularly vulnerable to COVID, protective action shelter options like Aloft remain critical.
In regard to concerns about locating this shelter facility so near the convention center, Aloft was one of only a few hotels that came forward in a time of crisis when the city urgently needed these rooms to respond to the height of the pandemic. We believe it’s in the city’s best economic interests not to have people experiencing homelessness living unsheltered on the streets, but instead to be stably sheltered where they have access to services and supports, and can eventually be re-housed.
We also hear the concerns about safety and sex offenders living in this facility. We brought the police department with us to talk about the fact that there are sex offenders residing throughout our city, not just at Aloft, and that it is more beneficial that they have a place to stay so they can be registered and monitored. We confirmed that there is 24/7 security at the Aloft, which includes hourly rotations both inside and outside the building perimeter. We also ask that crime happening outside the property (such as drug use, trespassing, or harassment) be reported to police.
In addition, HOST is moving forward with the following measures to respond to concerns we’ve heard:
- We have scheduled regular update meetings with neighbors for 3-3:30 p.m. the third Monday of every month. You can join using Zoom at: https://denvergov-org.zoom.us/j/85103991016
- We are working with The Salvation Army to formalize and beautify the designated smoking area with outdoor furniture, ashtrays, trash cans, and potentially some kind of screening from passersby. We will ask guests to limit smoking outside of the building to the designated area.
- We are working with The Salvation Army to beautify the lobby area and make it more presentable in keeping with the neighborhood.
- We are contracting with Denver Day Works to conduct weekly trash clean up around the exterior of the Aloft property.
- We are having discussions with security to ensure they are identifiable, completing hourly exterior perimeter patrols, reporting illegal activity in the area to the police, and not allowing people to loiter on the Aloft property. (Please note that we cannot force people not to congregate on public property, though they will be asked to move along.)
We are committed to hearing and responding to your concerns. We hope to maintain an open dialogue about how we can all work toward our common goal of a healthy, housed and connected Denver.
Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns. For immediate concerns with operations at Aloft, please contact Kristen Baluyot with The Salvation Army at email@example.com.
The Department of Housing Stability invests resources, creates policy and partners to provide housing stability, resolve episodes of homelessness, and create housing opportunities. Learn more at denvergov.org/housing.
Find resident resources, including rent assistance and shelter here.
UpDoNA Safety and Quality of Life Committee reply to Ms Allie
Sabrina, we would like to thank you once again for working to mitigate the impacts of Aloft on the surrounding community. While there is nothing mentioned about the any actions with respect to the ten individuals with criminal sexual histories, we nevertheless appreciate what you are doing.
You mentioned the Denverite article. We had already seen it, and aside from a bit of an inaccurate rich vs poor angle to the story, the rest of it seemed relatively balanced and fair, and actually publicized many of our reasons for resisting the renewal of this contract.
We disagree with your statement that there is a need for continuing these protective action rooms and remain confused by the logical disconnect in the entire situation. On one hand, the individuals were placed in Aloft because they were at risk in a congregate setting where social distancing was impossible. Yet on the other hand, neither the state nor the city appears to believe that social distancing is important any longer since it is not required (or for that matter practiced) anywhere in Denver, including presumably the Aloft lobby. This just doesn’t make sense to us.
We are happy that you will schedule monthly meetings, and we assume that these will allow a sufficient time for comment by our members after you provide your initial discussion on progress made in the preceding month.
When we talked, we discussed the installation of a visual barrier between the smoking area and Stout Street. You previously indicated that the Salvation Army resisted that because they said it would obstruct the view of the designated smoking area from security inside Aloft. That simply isn’t possible if that barrier was placed between that smoking area and Stout Street which is exactly the right place for it. You indicated that you are still in discussions with the Salvation Army about that barrier, and we look forward with great interest to a near term implementation. That, along with security ensuring that Aloft residents stay within that designated smoking are would significantly improve the issue of the verbal abuse and the perception of an unsafe environment that those Aloft residents create when they gather there in groups.
Thank you for improving the lobby area and for implementing the weekly trash cleanups. We hope that includes sweeping of cigarette butts.
At the next monthly meeting, we also hope you will explain the dichotomy of Aloft’s statements that security has been performing perimeter patrols every 30 minutes for the last two years, vs the fact that not one person we know who lives right around the corner from Aloft has ever seen a security guard outside of Aloft even a single time in that two year period. Your email now indicates hourly external patrols, so perhaps the initial 30 minute statement was just incorrect. However, someone at Spire should have seen at least one of the more than 17,000 hourly patrols that would have happened over the last two years. We are hoping for some explanation for this confusing situation.
We will forward your email along with these comments to our members, to residents of Spire, and to the other concerned organizations who have also expressed concern about the renewal of the Aloft contract.
President, Upper Downtown Neighborhood Association
Photo attribution: Rob Squire