News Briefs: Housing development creates homes, jobs for homeless

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Renaissance Housing Development Corporation is constructing a new, mixed income housing development at the northwest corner of Colfax and Pearl. The building, called the Renaissance Uptown Lofts, will provide at least 16 units for chronically homeless individuals, as well as affordable rent apartments for people at or below certain percentages of area median income.

The Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be the first construction built by the newly formed Renaissance Works Job Program, which will employ homeless individuals to work as construction laborers. The number of people employed at this development and the types of jobs available were unknown as of press time.

In addition, the Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be compliant with Green Communities’ guidelines. They will feature photovoltaic solar panels, Energy Star rated appliances, enhanced insulation and healthy interior materials.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: Homeless Health Goes Hi-Tech

Published November 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 10

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced $2 million in grants for two health information technology initiatives in Colorado. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless received $1,865,625 to implement electronic health records (EHRs), while the Colorado Community Managed Care Network, which serves 62 clinics in Colorado, received $250,000 to improve existing electronic health records. The CCH’s Stout Street Clinic has been operating in downtown Denver for almost 25 years, delivering healthcare to the homeless. The CCMCN’s patients are low-income and primarily medically underserved. Senators Mark Udal and Michael Bennet applauded the announcement of the grants, saying that the money will cut health care costs and reduce medical errors in Colorado, and also lead to better outcomes for the thousands of patients the two organizations serve every year. Detractors of EHRs warn that the electronic systems are not as efficient as they have been touted to be, and have led to misclassifications of illnesses by limiting diagnosis to check boxes on a form. The grants are part of $27.8 million in total grants announced in late September by the Department of Health and Human Services and provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: City Council Approves Additional Homeless Funds

Published September 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 8

Two Denver City Council members expressed concern over city contractors who begin work before the contracts in question are properly executed and signed by the city. Councilman Charlie Brown raised the issue last month during a vote to approve a $525,000 contract for homeless services by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Despite the vote being in August, the contract had a start date of April 1st, and the CCH, after receiving the go-ahead from the Denver Department of Human Services, had already begun to spend the money.

According to the city’s website, this is a common practice. Seventy five percent of expenditure contracts this year have had a start date before the contract is scheduled to reach the office of the mayor and the auditor. Councilman Charlie Brown asked the city council to vote down the CCH contract in order to set an example for other contractors.

Ultimately, the majority of the Council members decided a contract concerning money to help Colorado’s homeless was not the best contract to make an example of by voting down. “This is not the issue I want to hold up as an example,” said Councilwoman Marcia Johnson. The contract was approved 10-2, with Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz siding with Brown and Councilman Paul Lopez absent. BJ Iacino of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless says the organization is grateful the city did not take steps to compromise their ability to deliver services.

-- Sarah Harvey