Denver Mayor Wants to Spend $7 Million on Tiny Homes for Homeless

By: Brandon Richard

Aug 20, 2023Denver — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston has provided few details about how much his plan to house 1,000 people by the end of the year will cost. But that’s beginning to change.

The mayor’s office is asking the city council to approve a $7 million contract with Pallet, a social purpose company, for 200 tiny homes. The tiny homes the mayor’s office wants to purchase are 70 and 120 sq. ft. in size.

The 70 sq. ft. units can fit up to two people. The 120 sq. ft. units can fit up to four people.

The $7 million figure includes the cost of air conditioners and heaters for each unit, along with twin mattresses, bed frames, and folding desks.

Pallet says each of its units comes with a lock and key, which adds a sense of security for residents. The company says their homes are prefabricated and can be assembled in under an hour.

Pallet also supplied the tiny homes at the Salvation Army’s open outdoor space in Aurora.

If the Denver City Council approves the mayor’s request, the tiny homes will be located initially in three micro-communities, with plans to expand.

Cole Chandler, the mayor’s senior advisor on homelessness, will appear before the city council’s finance and governance committee on Tuesday.

“We’ve noted that we’re looking to create seven to 10 micro-communities,” said Cole Chandler, the mayor’s senior advisor on homelessness.

Chandler says they’re also looking for organizations to operate the micro-communities and to provide wraparound services to help residents get back on their feet.

“Basically, we’re asking organizations to bid and let us know what it takes to serve these communities in the best way possible,” said Chandler.

The mayor has pledged to build micro-communities in every council district.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston wants to purchase 200 tiny home shelters from Pallet, a Washington-state based social purpose company.

Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer says there’s very limited city-owned land in her district.

“The vast majority of it is zoned OS-A, which is open space. It’s parkland. Under our zoning code, you cannot build a micro-community on it,” said Sawyer.

The mayor says a list of locations where micro-communities will be built is still being finalized. He says it may include privately owned land.

“It’s one of the reasons why we’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes right now is we don’t obviously want to publicly release information about private landowner sites unless we’ve talked to them, gotten their feedback, and seen their openness,” said Johnston.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said the city is in discussions with private landowners about possibly building micro-communities on their properties. No finalized list of locations has been released.

The mayor’s office denied Denver7’s record request for a preliminary list of locations where the micro-communities could be built, saying it was part of a “work product” that was not subject to Colorado’s open records law.

The mayor’s office says a finalized list will be released to the public soon.

Chandler will provide more details about the plans for the micro-communities when he appears before the council’s finance and governance committee on Tuesday. Denver7 learned the CEO of Pallet will also attend Tuesday’s committee meeting.