With snow falling, tents are rising at our new Resurrection Village location!
Tonight, despite the Urban Camping Ban, we set up tents on this land because it is snowing and we who are houseless must stay warm and dry somehow. Meanwhile, all over the city there is public land–land on which in many cases there used to be affordable housing–land which now sits vacant or is being sold to private developers. We have a responsibility to use this public land to meet the public need!
We’ve relocated after being forced from our stopgap tent community at 26th and Arapahoe by the Denver Police Department and TreeHouse Brokerage (the private developer who bought the land from the Denver Housing Authority–DHA). Our new home is at 24th St between California and Stout–another vacant plot of land owned by DHA since 1979.
DHA’s original plan for this land, in keeping with its stated mission, was to put up a large apartment building to provide desperately-needed low-income housing here. But instead, bowing to pressure from the gentrifying Curtis Park neighborhood, it has allowed this land to sit empty for 36 years, right in the midst of thousands of homeless people who crowd into shelters and sleep on the streets every night–many of whom lived in this very neighborhood before losing their housing. The plan the neighborhood now favors is for DHA to sell this land to a private developer for creation of market-rate housing.
But we have another idea for this lot–one much more in line with DHA’s mission. Why not use it to provide a home for Resurrection Village–a community of cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and easy to construct tiny homes to be inhabited and run by those of us who are currently houseless? Tonight we just have tents–but soon we could be sleeping in our own tiny homes!
Yet DHA is not to blame for our current crisis of homelessness–or for the lack of affordable housing that has given rise to this crisis. The root cause is the drastic reduction in federal low income housing funding to Denver and nationwide, which began in the late 1970’s. Between 1978 and 1983, HUD’s budget authority was slashed from $83 billion to $17.6 billion (in 2004 constant dollars). The same year these cuts were finalized, the federal government responded to the emergence of massive visible street homelessness by building large emergency shelters across the country (the first federal response to homelessness since the great depression). Since then federal funding for affordable and low income housing has stayed at a constant low.
Between 1995 and 2011, 290,588 existing units of public housing and 360,000 Section 8 units have been lost–with many thousands more units being demolished or turned into market-based housing every year. (Meanwhile since 2011 830,000 new jail and prison cells have been created.) HUD funding for new public housing units the most permanent form of low income housing–has been zero since 1996. Just between 2010 and 2014, DHA and the City of Denver had to make do with a 31% decrease in HUD funding–even while rapidly rising housing costs and a slow economy have led to unprecedented levels of poverty and homelessness among us.
Ultimately, if we are serious about ending the housing crisis, all of us–in Denver and nationwide–must unite to demand the full restoration of federal funding for affordable housing and the provision of housing to all who need it.
Meanwhile, we pledge to continue working with City Council and city officials to designate land and legalize the existence of Resurrection Village as a sustainable, self-governed community. Until we can build our own tiny homes, we will continue to be homeless, to live in public spaces, and to do all we can to help our neighbors who must sleep outside to stay alive.
We invite and encourage everyone who shares our dream to support our efforts to make Resurrection Village a reality! Donate food, warm clothing, tents, blankets, sleeping bags and other items to help us survive outside! Tell Mayor Hancock, City Council members, and DHA to help us obtain land and the legal right for Resurrection Village to exist in Denver! Tell the Denver Police Department to stop harassing us and to let us survive on public land in the best way we can!