Local Homeless-Related News: Denver on Track to End Homelessness

100,000 Homes Campaign reports Denver’s Road Home on track to end chronic and vulnerable homelessness

WASHINGTON, DC— The 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national initiative of Community Solutions, announced that Denver’s Road Home is one of just 15 communities in the country that is measurably on track to end chronic and vulnerable homelessness.

A community must consistently move 2.5 percent of its chronic and medically vulnerable homeless neighbors into permanent housing each month to be considered on track to addressing this need. Over the past four months, Denver’s Road Home in partnership with the Denver Street Outreach Collaborative (DSOC) and multiple service providers has connected an average of 10 chronic or vulnerable people, or 3 percent, a month to housing.  Since  2005, the inception of Denver’s Road Home, the DSOC has housed a total of 1,992 people; 438 of those individuals have been housed over the past 2 ½ years, since forming a partnership with the 100,000 Homes Campaign.

The DSOC identifies a chronic or vulnerable homeless person for housing by using the Vulnerability Index, a tool for identifying and prioritizing the street homeless population for housing, according to the fragility of their health and the length of time on the streets. 

Exceeding the 2.5 percent mark is a difficult and noteworthy accomplishment that proves that Denver is not just talking about ending homelessness, but actually doing it, [according to Denver's Road Home]. Chronic and vulnerable homeless people are often the most difficult to house as well as the most at risk for dying on the streets. Their homelessness also costs public systems far more than the straightforward cost of permanent supportive housing.

Denver’s Road Home and its partners are helping to end chronic and vulnerable homelessness by finding housing for those who currently meet the definition of chronic and/or vulnerable homelessness, as well as those who are projected to enter the ranks of chronic and vulnerable homelessness through 2015.

Through its participation in the 100,000 Homes Campaign, Denver’s Road Home is teaching and learning from the best performing communities in the country so that each community can all end homelessness together. All participating communities work to identify each of their homeless neighbors by name and prioritize the most chronic and vulnerable among them for rapid, permanent housing.

“Housing at least 2.5 percent of your chronic and vulnerable homeless neighbors every month is the difference between talking about ending homelessness and actually doing it. The communities hitting this mark are some of the best in the country, and we are relying on their leadership and expertise to help more communities get on track to end homelessness,” said Becky Kanis, Director of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. 

 

The national list of communities on track to end chronic/vulnerable homelessness includes:

  • Arlington County, VA
  • Bellflower, CA
  • Bergen County, NJ
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Denver, CO
  • North Hollywood/Sun Valley, CA
  • Omaha, NE
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Richmond, VA
  • Shreveport/Bossier, LA
  • Silverlake, CA
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Whittier, CA

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About 100,000 Homes Campaign

The 100,000 Campaign, a national initiative of Community Solutions, is a movement of over 140 communities working together to find permanent housing for 100,000 chronic and vulnerable homeless individuals and families by July of 2014. To date, participating communities have housed over 19,000 people nationwide. Learn more at www.100khomes.org!

 

About Denver’s Road Home

Denver’s Road Home is a collaborative effort to end homelessness throughout Denver that began in 2005.  To learn more, visitwww.DenversRoadHome.org.

Campaign Questions

By Tim Covi

With the Mayoral elections around the corner, we wanted to ask candidates for their opinions on an often under-discussed topic in municipal elections: homelessness. Over the past few years, Denver’s homeless population has sky rocketed, going from 3,954 people in 2007 to 6,656 in 2009, a 68 percent increase. Service providers estimate that it has continued to rise through 2010, something we won’t know clearly until the next Point in Time survey is released later this year.

While not completely solving the problem, Denver’s Road Home—the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness—has been instrumental in creating more housing opportunities and bringing much needed attention and resources to the homeless community. Mayor Hickenlooper was a pivotal part of garnering support and funding for the plan.

We asked every candidate two questions to see how they’ll approach the issue of homelessness. Twelve of the 14 candidates answered by press time. Additional responses might become available on our website at: www.denvervoice.org

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Hickenlooper on Homelessness

 

Mayor John Hickenlooper discusses Denver's 10-year plan

By Tim Covi

Photography by Ross Evertson

From an English major in undergrad, to a master’s student in Geology, from a young entrepreneur in a derelict part of 1980’s Denver, to the Mayor’s office, John Hickenlooper’s path to politics has been anything but direct. In office, he has led this city through huge changes and growth. He’s pushed for greater accountability in sustainable development, in green house gas emissions, and in police department reforms.

As he embarks on the Governor’s race, we sat down with him to discuss one of the defining aspects of his tenure in the Mayor’s office, Denver’s Road Home, our 10-year plan to end homelessness. 

Five years into this plan, Denver’s Road Home has accomplished several of its numeric goals in terms of providing services, though the homeless population has grown. Though well short of ending homelessness among either chronic or temporary populations, DRH has managed to bring more than 1,500 housing units online for the homeless, and has made homelessness a central aspect of community action in Denver. 

The recession triggered a spike in Denver’s homeless population, which grew from 2,628 in 2005 to 6,659 in 2009, or almost a 61 percent increase. Much more needs to be done to solve the problem. Without the centralized services created by DRH, the coordination of faith based efforts to support the homeless and the infusion of money generated by DRH, this population will balloon more. 

Mr. Hickenlooper talks to us about how DRH started, what motivated him to throw his weight behind it, where we need to go from here, and how successful aspects of DRH could be applied across the state.

 

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Motel of Last Resorts

Homeless families make up nearly 50 percent of Denver's homeless population, but only 15 percent of shelter beds accommodate families. Is enough being done to keep families together? 

By Kristin Pazulski

Karla Hood and her 20-year-old son Karron have been living together in a small motel room off Colfax Avenue since February. 

Their home is in the Volunteers of America’s (VOA) Family Motel. During the day, the sun glitters off the 70s-style lettering of the sign that still stands from the motel’s former life as Aristocrat Motel. In their room, there are two beds, a closet, a bathroom, two nightstands and a chest of drawers. The room is strewn with belongings that once filled their two-bedroom apartment, but are now confined to the two-bed motel room.

Karla, 48, and Karron had to leave their home of 20 years in February when the landlord of their subsidized housing in East Denver refused to renew Karla’s lease. “It was such a last minute situation,” she said. “I had to leave behind about 75 percent of our stuff. I couldn’t afford the storage. I just let it go. I cried a lot and prayed a lot.”

 

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Feature: A Bump in the Road Home

Denver’s 10-year plan has accomplished a lot since it started in 2005, but can it keep up with growing poverty?

by Tim Covi
photographs by Ross Evertson

Looking at him now, you can still vaguely make out the silhouette of Bruce Wright’s youth. He sits in a dimly lit chair in his homey ground floor apartment, shadows rolling across the walls from passing cars. Barrel chest, heavy hands, his history of work and wander is etched subtly into him like a living tattoo. A hoarse cough shakes his body for a minute and pulls us out of his story about the past. He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He sips water from an old plastic coke bottle and regains composure. His eyes are meek and honest as he takes us back to Arizona, California, Oregon.

  Bruce Wright photo by Ross Evertson "I was living off and on in hotel rooms, just kickin' it around wherever I could, you know. I spent quite some time sown at 11th Avenue Hotel. I started out at $10 a night just for the bed."

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