Safe Outdoor Space
St. Francis Center (SFC) is partnering with Regis University, the Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC), and the city and county of Denver to provide humane shelter for people experiencing homelessness and needing temporary emergency housing.
The 19,000-square-foot Safe Outdoor Space (SOS) facility in a parking lot on the University’s Northwest Denver Campus at 50th Avenue and Federal Boulevard opened June 1. It offers 24-hour staffed and secured shelter for up to 60 people, who are screened and selected by service agencies. The SOS will operate for six months with the option to renew month to month for another 6 months. The site offers residents an individualized weatherproof tent, cots, food, bathrooms, showers, a shared dining space, wellness checks, and access to resources including assistance towards finding permanent housing.
Ian Stitt, SFC’s SOS Manager, (picture above left) has been on site since mid-May for the site buildout, and is working with a team of dedicated staff and volunteers who help guests receive the care and attention that they need.
“As site manager my job is to bring my experience in the field as an outreach worker and knowledge of the resources to our site, while creating a safe, dignified, humane place for our community members to live,” Ian said. “We consider the SOS an innovative shelter option that was created to confront the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for our unsheltered community. It was specifically designed to shelter the segment of the unsheltered population who are traditionally left out of other sheltering options. Our goal is to ensure an equitable process that allows us to ensure everyone is welcome at this site.”
The SOS model was created utilizing 2020 Point in Time Survey data, which showed a total of 6,104 people experiencing homelessness nightly in the Denver metro area, with 1,561 of those unsheltered.
“The survey notes the significant overrepresentation of people of color and the transgender community who are not being served and are living on the streets,” Ian said. “We provide access to resources from 12 different agencies to reduce the barriers our folks face in getting off the streets.”