Yesterday, we received some startling news from the courts regarding the suit the Ballpark Neighborhood has filed against The City and County of Denver, the Board of Adjustments for Zoning Appeals for the City and County of Denver, and Denver Rescue Mission. The ruling by District Court judge, R. Michael Mullins, who is responsible for this decision, was that the previous order of the Board of Adjustments be reversed. This has the effect, for zoning reasons, of not allowing us to operate the soon to be completed Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC).
I am shocked and dismayed by this ruling. Why? Because it is the poor and needy people we serve who are most impacted. To me this decision is about dignity and respect. I believe there are hundreds of thousands of caring citizens in the greater Denver area who believe, like I do, that individuals and families trying to make their way out of poverty should be able to have a place where they might be able to use a restroom, get a drink of water, take a shower, do laundry, sit in a safe place free from drug predators, and even charge their cell phones so that they can continue to look for work. A place where compassionate and willing people provide respect and care for all people no matter their station in life. A place where they can be connected to services so that they can become productive self-sufficient citizens. Are these not basic human dignity issues and should we not do all we can to help those who are struggling?
How do I know that this is important to our community? Because we, at Denver Rescue Mission, have been helping hundreds of thousands of people for the last 123 years and we would not be here today without our community’s support. This last year alone, we provided over 600,000 meals and 300,000 nights of shelter. Homelessness is not going away, but we can help people change their lives one person at a time. At Denver Rescue Mission, we believe people matter, and no matter how this decision regarding the LSCC is finally resolved, we are going to keep on doing just what we have been doing — providing human dignity and respect to the poor but most importantly, HOPE for the future. As a faith-based ministry, we are praying that God will move peoples’ hearts to cry out for justice for the poor.