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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has found that the undeveloped 59 acres near the Federal Center in Lakewood are suitable for use by homeless organizations.
On Sept. 25, HUD released a letter announcing the organization’s decision, and ordered the General Services Administration (GSA) to cancel its site auction.
The change in course is the result of an injunction filed in U.S. District Court by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to temporarily block any sale.
“Everyone is seeing the affordable housing crisis in Denver and Jeffco, and you can see the homeless population growing,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of communications and public policy with the coalition. “Using this site is one more way we can work to provide a long-term solution to the problem.”
HUD will formally pronounce the land suitable for homeless housing on Oct. 6, and then homeless service providers will have 30 days to submit an application to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding their interest in the property, Alderman explained.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless plans to submit a proposal that the site be transferred to the group for a range of supportive housing, health, employment and other services for homeless families and individuals in Lakewood and throughout the metro area.
The coalition filed the injunction against the GSA on July 25, asking the court to halt the sale until the GSA provided HUD all the details of the property, and gave HUD a chance to determine if the land could be used for homeless services.
The auction, which opened in May, had been scheduled to close on July 27.
The injunction was filed under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which requires federal agencies to identify and make available surplus federal property, such as buildings and land, for use by states, local governments and nonprofit agencies to assist homeless people.
The 59 acres are zoned Mixed-Use Core Transit (M-C-T), which allows for high-density residential and retail. The land was originally intended for the City of Lakewood to take ownership of, in exchange for building a new laboratory for the Federal Center, which houses 28 agencies in 44 buildings. The agreement was first put forth in October 2015, but residents’ concern over a lack of information and time to do the necessary groundwork led to negotiations ending in January 2016.
As of the afternoon of Sept. 28, seven bids on the land had been submitted with the highest bid at $6 million and the lowest at $700,000.
The coalition aims to work with the Colorado Housing Finance Authority to help leverage the necessary money to run the site, and wants to ensure everyone is involved.
“We’re going to engage the local stakeholders, businesses and neighbors during this process,” Alderman said. “We want this to be a collaborative effort.”
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