Photo attribution: Rob Squire
Safety & Quality of Life Committee – Aloft Hotel Update – Oct 22, 2022
As you probably know, we have been told for quite some time by the Department of Housing Stability (HOST) that they planned to end the Emergency Shelter Contract with Aloft on December 31, 2022, unless there was another strong outbreak of COVID. We have met with them several times over the past few months, and we sensed a decreased commitment to end the contract. Since then, we have heard that Mayor Hancock was considering the purchase of the building with the intent of making it a permanent shelter.
As soon as we heard that, we met with contacts from the hotel industry to discuss the matter. They are being significantly affected by the nearby presence of a homeless shelter and all the activities that it has. In watching the alley and parking lot behind Aloft, we have observed extensive drug use, we know of at least one overdose resulting in death, and significant drug dealing. There was one time where we observed two drug deals happening simultaneously with a guard (presumably armed) nearby. As we suspected, the hotel industry is firmly against any such move, and they have been conducting significant lobbying with the mayor, and they have been engaged in other activities.
We discussed partnering with them in their efforts, but we all decided that parallel efforts might be the most effective to discourage the purchase. As a result, we initiated an email campaign with UpDoNA membership, and have prepared an email from the UpDoNA board of Directors which will go out shortly.
There is an additional risk, however. Since Mayor Hancock is a “lame duck” mayor, he could decide to extend the contract yet again, allowing the next mayor to make the purchase decision. We are asking the membership to also email the mayor asking that the contract end on December 31, 2022 as planned. If the residents have been moved to other shelters, and renovations have commenced to the building, the next mayor may have less incentive to return it to a shelter.
It will take four to eight weeks to relocate the current Aloft residents to other shelters, so that process should begin sometime in November. That would indicate that a decision must be made soon to vacate the hotel. It should be noted that as other similar emergency shelters have closed, no resident has been put out on the street. Residents have been and continue to be moved into more permanent housing.
We believe that emails should emphasize the concern that the presence of a shelter so close to the Convention Center will make it difficult for the city to attract new convention business. This is an economically sensitive area, and is important to Denver’s economic recovery. Proximity to Spire is probably not a good strategy, but safety of pedestrians, tourists and convention-goers is likely a better approach.
If you haven’t done so, please send your email to the following three addresses: