Safety and Quality of Life Committee
Members of the Safety and Quality of Life Committee attended the monthly meeting with HOST representatives to discuss the status of mitigation efforts aimed at addressing the impacts to the Upper Downtown neighborhood from the use of the Aloft Hotel as an emergency covid shelter. Some of those concerns include open drug use by Aloft residents in the alley and in parking lots, trash, lack of security and monitoring of activities outside of the hotel, the cluttered lobby visible by passersby, and the mismatched hotel furniture being used as seating in front of the hotel.
To date, HOST and the Salvation Army, which manages the facility, have purchased outdoor furniture for the designated outside smoking area, and the hotel lobby has been decluttered and organized. We very much appreciate these efforts.
However, there is still concern about the open drug use, trash, and what seems like non-existent security patrols of the perimeter of the hotel. We discussed these issues during the meeting. We were told that Securitas is conducting two patrols an hour, one inside the hotel and the other outside. However, we continue to get mixed messaging from HOST and the Salvation Army concerning security efforts and responsibilities. While HOST tells us there are outside security patrols, the Salvation Army tells us that it is not responsible for what happens outside the hotel. HOST plans to review data to confirm that outside security patrols are being conducted, and it plans to meet with members of the Salvation Army to discuss the misinformation.
The Salvation Army is currently coordinating trash pickups twice a month with plans to increase trash pickup to once a week beginning in August. Denver Day Works will oversee trash collection. Denver Day Works is an employment service for adults experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Participants are given job experience, meals, and payment for their labor. In addition, we were told that the Salvation Army staff is cleaning the perimeter of the hotel twice a day.
It was requested that HOST determine Securitas’ response if they see an Aloft resident doing something illegal such as open drug use. Specifically, do they report it to the police, instruct the perpetrator to cease, or do nothing? HOST will respond with an answer.
A visual barrier between the smoking area and Stout Street was discussed in an earlier meeting. HOST was not aware of the status but will find out.
Lt. Sean Faris of the Denver Police Department told us that his police officers are seeing more foot traffic around the Aloft Hotel, so he has increased patrols of this area. We cannot stress enough how important it is that we continue to report all illegal activities that occur in the alley and in the parking lots.
On Monday evening, City Council voted to extend the Aloft Hotel contract through the end of December.
The Safety and Quality of Life Committee will continue to work with HOST, the Salvation Army, DPD, City Council members, and the mayor’s office to resolve issues and to ensure safety.
In a related matter, the Safety and Quality of Life Committee reported earlier that HB22-1378 and SB22-211 were signed by Governor Polis on 5/31/22. These bills provide funding for two regional campuses for the Denver metro area to help people recover from drug addiction and find long-term stability after experiencing homelessness. Both facilities are needed to address Denver’s increasing homeless population. https://updona.org/2022/06/01/two-new-campuses-to-fight-homelessness/ Councilwoman Debbie Ortega informed our committee that the millions of dollars the city continues to spend for the use of hotels as emergency covid shelters would be better spent by building permanent housing on the 500 acres of land located at the Ridge View Facility.
Corner of 14th and Stout Streets:
Lt. Farris has removed the temporary light for needed repairs. The police department will return the light as soon as possible.
Photo attribution: Rob Squire