FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vice President of Communications & Public Policy
Office (303) 312-9638
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Intends to File a Motion Today to Enjoin the Federal Government from Selling Federal Property in Lakewood in Violation of Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act
Lakewood, CO, July 25, 2017 -- The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) intends to file a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in the U.S. District Court of Colorado and a motion for a temporary injunction blocking the disposition of the Federal Center Station Property in Lakewood, Colorado by the General Services Administration (GSA) via online auction scheduled for today, July, 25, 2017. CCH is requesting a temporary injunction until GSA provides the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a complete record regarding the environmental conditions on the property and until HUD appropriately considers all relevant information concerning the property and makes a proper determination of suitability in accordance with the requirements of its regulations and Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act.
CCH was deeply disappointed in a decision by the federal government last fall that deemed a large parcel of surplus federal property in Lakewood somehow “unsuitable” for use for homelessness services and housing even though it is scheduled to be auctioned off today for “mixed use development” including market-rate residential use. CCH believes the intent of Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act has been completely circumvented in this instance to the detriment of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens in need of safe and affordable housing.
Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 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. This provision allows vacant and surplus federal property to be deeded or leased for free to eligible groups for the purpose of housing or providing services to people who are homeless. The Title V program is a common sense, cost effective way to help the growing population of homeless persons while simultaneously reducing the financial burden on the government of maintaining vacant and surplus property.
In March of 2013, a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, found that many government agencies have been inaccurately reporting their number of unused federal properties — thus violating the federal law that requires agencies to list unused buildings that can potentially be used for homeless services. The ruling ordered the GSA and HUD to take additional steps to ensure agencies are following the law. CCH believes that GSA and HUD failed to follow the requirements of both the federal law and the court order as it relates to the Federal Center property.
In September of 2016, HUD made a determination that the 59- acre parcel was “unsuitable” for use to assist the homeless because there were 15 acres on the parcel that were formerly landfills. CCH appealed that determination but HUD confirmed the “unsuitable” designation due to the presence of contamination on site in the northwest corner. However, a use restriction letter from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) dated February 14, 2017, references actions taken the GSA to prepare for the disposition of the property. As CDPHE indicates in its summary of the restrictions, “[o]ne thing to note is that there is no restriction on the type of development that may occur in the northwest corner sale area property in general, or the NW Corner Landfill Cover Property in particular.” According to a Denver Post story posted on May 16, 2017, GSA officials believe the property “could become a retail and residential development along the West Rail Line near the Federal Center light rail station by West Sixth Avenue and Simms.”
GSA’s online auction for the property commenced today: https://realestatesales.gov/gsaauctions/aucdsclnk?sl=FTWOR717009001
CCH questions why property in Lakewood that has been deemed “unsuitable” for development to provide housing and services for people experiencing homelessness is somehow safe and suitable for market-rate development. CCH has reached out to HUD and GSA to reconsider this public auction and has requested that these federal agencies follow both the intent and requirements of the only federal law that provides real solutions to homelessness. To date, CCH has not heard back from the federal agencies and therefore intends to file a motion for injunctive relief requesting that GSA postpone the disposition of the property pending appropriate review and determination by HUD regarding its suitability for development for homeless assistance.
About Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for homeless and at-risk families, children, and individuals throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 15,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.