Denver’s homeless motel guests increasing

It’s a well-known fact that Denver’s ramshackle motels host some of the city’s most needy families. But just how many families live in temporary motel housing is impossible to say. During the summer months, the city typically doles out around 16 vouchers each day, which are redeemable at 16 motels. But the number of homeless families crashing along Colfax Avenue, Broadway and Colorado Boulevard is likely much higher. And it’s a hard figure to pin down.

“They bounce around,” explains Mandie Birchem with the Colfax Community Network, a group that advocates on behalf of families living in motels.

But with the economy’s recent nosedive, she says, the numbers are likely much higher than in the past couple of years. “We have noticed an increase in displaced individuals and families,” she says, adding that people who face eviction often move directly into motels.

As the Colorado Independent reported today, some families looking for motel rooms may be forced to find another place to go during the Democratic National Convention when hotels are booked citywide. Denver has created a backup plan to bring families into churches if homeless shelters become full.

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Naomi Zeveloff

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