At the end of next month, the Denver VOICE will lose its home. After almost six years at our distribution office at Park Avenue and Champa, we’ve got to move on. The building has been sold. The neighborhood is changing.
Denver has been talking about revitalizing Arapahoe Square, our corner of Five Points, for a few years. In the 70s and 80s many of the neighborhood’s old buildings were bulldozed, essentially turning Arapahoe Square into overflow parking for Denver’s Central Business District. For decades this area between 20th St. and Park Ave. has been home to deteriorating single story buildings and parking lots.
Arapahoe Square is also home to many of the organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness. The Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter (better known as Jesus Saves) and St. Francis Center are within a few blocks of the VOICE’s distribution office. So are the Stout Street Clinic and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. These are all agencies VOICE vendors frequent.
Most vendors rely on public transportation to get around town. It’s important for us to distribute papers somewhere convenient for them. Our office at Park Avenue and Champa isn’t just close to other service agencies; it’s also close to areas downtown where many vendors go to sell their papers.
Our landlord gave us notice, and even before the notice about the termination of our lease came, there were signs. Last fall we first heard rumors that our building would be going up for sale. Earlier this year the building was tested for asbestos. We knew then it was only a matter of time before it would be scraped and replaced with something new. We had plenty of warning, but that doesn’t change the fact that we can’t afford our neighborhood anymore. Finding a new place to go has been difficult.
Denver is changing. Some changes are for the better, such the growing movement to install public restrooms downtown. The VOICE has reported on public toilet initiatives in other cities, and we’re thrilled that Denver is finally starting to think about public restrooms. On pages four and five, we examine the current conversation surrounding public toilets, adding a few of our vendors’ voices to the mix.
Each month I ask everyone involved in the production of the VOICE a question, then print a few of the answers in our masthead (see right). This month I asked staff, vendors, and the board if they would use the public toilets Denver is thinking about installing. It’s no surprise that responses were resoundingly positive and enthusiastic. It just goes to show that public bathrooms aren’t only an issue for homeless people—they’re an issue for everyone.
As for the VOICE finding a new home, we’ve got a few temporary solutions in the works. Between other service organizations and the help of some very kind people, we’ll find a new place, even if it’s temporary. We’ve always figured out how to get by, and we will again. ■
If you have something to add to the conversation, say it! Post on our Facebook page at /denvervoice or email firstname.lastname@example.org.