Turf War

Nonprofit files suit against government agencies for land

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless filed a lawsuit in federal district court late last month against the General Services Administration, an independent agency that assists the government in acquiring office space, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development concerning a piece of land on which CCH hopes to build.

The 59-acre parcel of land is next to the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, adjacent to a Regional Transportation District rail station. The federal government bought more than 2,000 acres of land in the same area from a private family in 1941. At the height of World War II, the land became the Denver Ordnance Plant, which produced ammunition and heavy artillery shells until 1945.

The lawsuit states that GSA, named as a defendant, was in negotiations with the City of Lakewood through 2015 and 2016. GSA planned a trade deal with the city, in which Lakewood would build a lab on the property in exchange for the land transfer. Lakewood would then sell portions of the land to developers for residential, retail and office spaces next to the RTD station.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires federal agencies to list properties for homeless shelter programs. Title V of the act allows eligible organizations, such as states, local governments and nonprofit organizations, to use “unutilized, underutilized, excess or surplus federal properties” for homelessness assistance. The assistance providers do not pay rent on the properties, and leases may range from 1 to 20 years.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 7, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.