During a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Denver Urban Peak's homeless youth shelter, it was so quiet attendees could hear a pin drop.
The ceremony began with a moment of silence for a young member of the Urban Peak and Denver community who recently passed away. Urban Peak CEO Christina Carlson said the staff learned of his passing over the weekend and asked the audience to think of Jacob, and other young people lost over the years.
"We think of ourselves at Urban Peak as a family," Carlson said. "And our youth remind us every day about hope and resiliency and the pain and the struggle for people experiencing homelessness."
The new campus, called the Mothership at 1630 S. Acoma St., will provide expanded youth sheltering with case management and extensive support services on a single campus. The campus is partially funded by a $16.7 million contribution from the voter-approved RISE Denver bond. This bond provides $260 million for projects Denverites identified as important.
"This is the biggest investment that we've ever made in a shelter and this type of transitional space for youth to seek stability. It is so meaningful for youth experiencing homelessness," Executive Director of the Department of Housing Stability Britta Fisher said. "It feels really great to have this as a bookend event as I close out my chapter with the city."
Fisher recently announced she would step down from her position at the department and become the CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. But in the moment, her focus was on the new Urban Peak center.
Fisher praised Urban Peak, saying they do an excellent job accepting and supporting youth in the Denver community.
"Seeing places like Urban Peak, that provide shelter, housing, food, employment music studios and all sorts of things to provide youth with care is just amazing," she said.
The new shelter offers another solution to Denver's homelessness and housing crisis. Carlson said people who die in a tent because they cannot afford housing, find resources or access any type of shelter continues to devastate the community.
The loss of a person like Jacob resonated with Rep. Diana DeGette, who wanted to believe that if the Mothership campus had been completed, Jacob may still be a community member.
"But the hope you give us is that there are many more Jacob's out there," DeGette said. "There are many more children and youths who are experiencing homelessness, and now they will have a place to come that they really deserve."
Outgoing Mayor Michael Hancock continued with that theme of hope as he took the podium.
"This organization over the next 60, 70, 75 hopefully 100 years will touch generations that we will never meet," he said. "I couldn't be prouder to have done our part as an administration, and as a city, to see the worth of Urban Peak and to make this worthy investment."