Meet the Echo

Meet the Echo

By Danielle Krolewicz

The world’s newest street paper is changing lives in Colorado Springs.

January 1 marked the launch of the Colorado Springs Echo, a street paper spearheaded by Raven Canon. After a year of hard work, dedication, networking, and fundraising, Canon published the first installment of the Echo, printing 3,000 copies of the paper. 

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Good News: Urgency to a New Life

By Aneta Storvik, PR Coordinator for the Denver Rescue Mission

Urgency—a word that sums up Michael’s journey to a new life. His journey begins at the Lawrence Street Shelter.

One day, after finishing breakfast at the shelter, instead of moving from his seat to go back outside, he sat there. He was afraid that if he had walked out those doors, then he would have died—if not physically, emotionally. So he waited with determination and carried that sense of urgency with him, and spoke with Jay Earl, the intake chaplain, about starting the New Life Program—a rehabilitation program at Denver Rescue Mission.

His sense of urgency paid off. By that evening, he was enrolled in the New Life Program and his life was forever changed.

“Jay Earl believed in me, and he gave me a chance when he had no reason to think I could clean up my life up,” Michael recalls.

Michael impressed his supervisors with his work ethic and positive attitude and earned four promotions in less than a year. Today, he’s an assistant manager at a Goodwill store and a graduate of the New Life Program.

Watch Michael’s story here!

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I am grateful to work at Denver Rescue Mission and hear these stories first-hand, and the best part of it all, is that we all can relate to Michael’s story of urgency and determination. We all experience the “white flag” moment that finally releases the crippling habits that bring us down.

The New Life Program is dependent on the men, who are seeking change, that want to fight for their lives. It’s a fight to freedom from negative decisions, addictions, abuse…

When you partner with organizations like the Denver VOICE or the Mission, you’re helping, encouraging and supporting men and women who are fighting for their lives! 

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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Banking on Prosperity

Debra and Clarence sit on the stoop of the home they are temporarily living inBy Kristin Pazulski

Photography by Adrian DiUbaldo


When Debra and Clarence Rhames laid their blankets down on the back patio of the King M. Trimble building in Curtis Park, little did they know the help they sought was just on the other side of the wall they were leaning against.

In late summer, the couple arrived in Denver on a Greyhound bus from Florida. With little money, but high hopes for Clarence landing work at a labor pool, they decided to stay on the streets when they first arrived in the Mile High city. They did not expect to still be without home and job at Christmas.

“I’ve never been through being homeless before until now, and I’m telling you now it’s not a good feeling. … I’m not a patient man,” said Clarence, who despite spending hours at the nearby labor pool has barely found a day’s worth of work. Fortunately, the couple chose the right place to “camp out” when they stopped at 30th and Champa Streets.

The King M. Trimble building, where they laid down their blankets that September night, houses the Economic Prosperity Center, a relatively new resource for Denver residents seeking financial and career help. EPC brings together five organizations, the Mile High United Way,  the Office of Economic Development (OED), the Denver Housing Authority, the Denver Asset Building Coalition and the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute to offer free financial education classes, career boosting lessons, skills assessment, tax services, college preparation courses, small business coaching and computer classes.

“We want to be a central hub, like a resource center for people,” said Danelle Herman, the marketing coordinator for EPC. “So it’s like a one-stop-shop.”

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Beautiful

By Amy Juschka

Photography by Trevor Brady


Born in South Africa, Trevor Brady moved to Vancouver, B.C. in 1993 and began to work in advertising and design, but soon discovered a love for photography. Today, Brady is a highly acclaimed fashion photographer who spends his downtime exploring the architectural beauty of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But while strolling through the neighborhood’s many alleyways, his lens focused on the intricacies of century-old hotels, Brady saw something in the people he met along the way, and soon refocused his lens on them. The result is the honest and captivating portrait series he calls “Beautiful.” Regardless of where you’re from, there is a universal appeal and interest to these portraits.

Megaphone Magazine caught up with Brady to talk about the inspiration for his “Beautiful” series, and shared the interview with the Denver VOICE.

MM: How did you start photographing people in the Downtown Eastside?

Brady: When I moved to Gastown I started to walk around the Eastside and photograph the architecture and street scenes, kind of like everybody else has done, but then, of course, walking down the alleys and streets you start to bump into the people that are in the neighborhood as well.

I was always a little reserved as far as photographing the people here and I kind of stayed away from it for a long time, but then I found them really approachable, more so than I expected, which was kind of an odd discovery. There had been times in the past when I’d walk around with a camera and sort of get tagged by a couple of people, almost taunting you a little bit. I found that a few years ago, but when I started to do this body of work I found it very different—people were more intrigued and kind of inviting.


MM: A lot of people have photographed the Downtown Eastside. What do you think you bring to the subject?

Brady: I don’t think I did it for any reason really other than for myself. It was an opportunity that came about while photographing the stuff that I like to photograph. I’m always very cautious of approaching people and sort of taking away something that is theirs so I don’t really want to do it for commercial purposes and I’m not the kind of person that’s going to get them to sign a model release.

In regards to what’s been done, I guess I had a slight consciousness that the stuff I’ve seen of people on the Eastside tends to be in black and white. I feel that it’s kind of given it a bit of a gritty dark kind of a look. It was important to me to go out and consciously make an effort to make sure to keep it backlit to give people more of a glamorous look in a way.

MM: How did you choose your subjects?

Brady: For this work, they chose me. I wasn’t going to force somebody or take a picture behind someone’s back. It was pretty much who was in front of me.

It was what they could give to the photograph. Only afterwards I noticed something that they were giving back to me as opposed to me trying to get something from them. There was sort of a strange message in what they were communicating to me. They wanted to do it—they wanted to show me something.

MM: Lincoln Clarkes’ “Heroines” portrait series was criticized by some as voyeuristic and exploitative. When photographing marginalized people, how do you ensure your work is respectful?

Brady: I haven’t gone out and tried to market these images. I have come across a few people who have found them and I did a little show in France.

It’s not something that I’m looking to sell and make a profit off of. If I had to think of long-term it could become a book or some sort of documentation. But otherwise I guess I don’t know—I don’t really have an answer for that.

MM: What else can you tell me about the Beautiful series?

Brady: Going back to the name of the work, when I would walk around the alleyways I was very specific in using an old roloflex—the camera you look down into and it’s got twin lenses. It looks like a vintage camera so people are intrigued and I’d often get asked, ‘Does that really work?’ or whatever else so that became sort of a conversation piece to engage with people.

It was a bit premeditated, I guess to sort of make people interested in what I was doing. I would ask them if they wanted to have their picture taken and I don’t think I had anybody who didn’t want to have their photograph taken and I felt that I really got something more than I bargained for—there were a few cases where I didn’t feel that I was getting the message from them, but most times, especially with women, I felt there was this kind of soft smile that I can very rarely even get from models. Something really soft came through, and this was coming through naturally. I never asked anyone to smile or be serious, but most people had this warmth, which was interesting and I never really expected that to happen. So that’s where I got the name.

iPhone Therefore I Am

By Kristin Pazulski and Patrick Naylis

Photography by Michael David Murphy

PHOTO BY MICHAEL DAVID MURPHY FROM THE SERIES “HANDSFREE”
For Janet Roberts, having a cell phone is vital to both her business and staying connected to her family and friends, especially since she doesn’t have a consistent home. For six months, Roberts has been on the streets, vending the Denver VOICE and trying to launch her custom T-shirt business. Most of those months, she has also owned a cell phone that she shares with fiancé Mitch Hegg.

“I can’t do my job without a phone. It’s a necessity, I have to call my clients,” said Roberts, standing outside the VOICE distribution office.

But in October, Roberts hit a snag. As many people have experienced, she and her fiancé lost their phone to a toilet. In the same period of time there was a delay with her unemployment, so they couldn’t afford to get a new one. After a few weeks, in mid-November, Roberts started receiving her unemployment. She said the first purchase on her list is a cell phone. Then she and Hegg will start hunting for an apartment. In that order.

And she’s not the only one.

“I cannot believe how many homeless people have a cell phone,” Roberts said. “That does surprise me. I mean they are living on the street and they have a phone.”

Hegg, sitting next to her in the Denver VOICE office, agreed. “When you are on the streets, a cell phone and a bus pass are the two most important things to have,” he said.

What is it about cell phones, and even more recently smartphones, that they have gone from being a convenience to what some consider a necessity—so necessary that even without a home people will be sure to own one? Present day culture has expanded our needs to include not just a telephone to communicate, but cell phones and smartphones to stay in constant touch. Additionally, people are now using them as a replacement for computers and simple technologies such as flashlights and alarm clocks.

Joanne Cantor has been stuck on the issue for a few years. As a mother, she bought a cell phone after September 11, 2001, when she was stuck in an airport unable to reach her family.

Cantor, professor emerita of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the recently published “Conquer CyberOverload,” has been studying our use of mobile technology since 2007, when she started investigating ‘cyber-overload’ because of her own dependence on the technology.

She said there are various reasons why owning a cell phone has become a necessity to the consumer, most prominently, status and peace of mind.

“Knowing that you have a cell phone is … good for peace of mind, and that’s valuable in itself,” she said in a phone interview last month. “And if you are in business everyone expects you to have a cell phone, so even if you were the type of person to say you don’t need it, you have to have it because you seem like you’re out of touch if you don’t have one.”

The last thing anyone in business wants is to appear out of touch. It becomes necessary to have the latest technological gadget so your customers and colleagues see you are on top of trends. 

“Most people expect that you can be reachable at the time when you aren’t at work,” Cantor said. “I think these things [technologies] start by being useful, and when enough people adopt them [they] become a necessity because of the expectation.”

Paul Bauer disagrees. Bauer, chair of the department of information technology at Denver University’s Daniels College of Business, said he doesn’t think smartphones have reached the level of necessity.

“There are people who have deliberately put it under a bucket and walked away for a week. Necessity is probably too strong,” he said, although he added, “Maybe in a business environment it’s not.”

But some business people, like Jack Schuler, art director at The Integer Group advertising agency, do not bother with the smartphone, despite being in a media-heavy industry.

“I personally don’t have one,” he said. “I’m in an office where everybody has one. I would use a lot of capabilities if I [had] one, [but] I like to get away from my work. … I don’t see myself having to get one.”

While not everyone sees smartphones or cell phones as “necessary,” most people have one. More than 86 percent of Americans have a cell phone, according to FCC and Census Bureau figures, and according to a 2009 survey by the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), between June and December 2009 the number of active smartphones and PDAs increased by nearly 10 million.

And now smartphones seem to be overtaking cell phones. Since 2007, smartphones sales to dealers have grown by about 10 million units per year, while cell phone sales began decreasing in 2009, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Which is more necessary?

But are these products, deemed as “necessary,” hurting some things that really are necessary to us? The average user might not consider it daily, but these ubiquitous technologies can impact our pocket book and our emotional lives.

A study released in 2009 by Parks Associates, a research firm based in Texas, reported that in three years, nearly 100 million more consumers in America will be paying for mobile broadband services than there were in 2008.

The CTIA said a monthly voice and data plan costs consumers an average of $47.47 right now, where land lines cost an average of $25.62 per month in 2007, the FCC says.

While some consumers are cutting out landlines and putting their money toward a mobile device, monthly costs, compounded by the cost of other recent technological “necessities” such as cable, television recording and the Internet, have been increasing.

Jules Kaplan, a senior instructor of economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that people supplement higher expenses by saving less and dipping into their assets, such as refinancing their homes. He also confirmed that the median household income hasn’t changed in the past few decades.

“To the extent that people see these items (iPhones, iPads, etc.) as a necessity, then in the absence of higher incomes, purchases of other items will decrease,” he wrote in an email, adding that people will look for cheaper food and clothing to supplement the additional costs.

The spiraling costs have a lot to do with the relatively quick turnaround of a concept from a lab to a finished product that hits the streets.

“If someone wants to throw enough resources behind it, there is a potential where in a year you could go from a lab to actual use,” said Tim Brown, director of University of Colorado at Boulder’s Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program in the College of Engineering.

If a large corporation like Intel or Microsoft feels a concept has potential as a product, they will expedite it to the consumer. Having more choices as a consumer also means additional expenses.

“Technology gives us something new, and we try it, and pretty soon someone makes it more convenient and once you realize you like doing it, you want it more conveniently,” Cantor said. “So we’re constantly being motivated to get the next thing. … Once we get there, it’s hard to go back.”

Interestingly, it seems that consumers are creating this need for themselves. While commercials and advertising for cell- and smartphones cater to the sense of necessity, David Slayden, an associate professor of communications at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that he doesn’t see the need being created by advertisers.

“I think it’s a rare case when advertising creates a need,” he said. “People look at and do what interests them … you don’t give a speech, you start a conversation, then you curate that conversation.”

Whether advertisers foster a perceived need or actively create that need appears to be a which-came-first-the-egg-or-the-chicken conundrum. Schuler sees it as a bit of both.

“Companies are developing products long before any advertising happens or even [is] thought about,” he said. “After the product’s been out for a while... they seem to play with the customer a bit.”

Does connecting equate to communicating?

Another discussion in the technology industry focuses on the quality of communication, again a necessity to the social human being, and whether it is suffering due to increased use of media to communicate.

Smartphones seem to have the capability to enrich the social experience by enabling us to take our sense of place with us through texting, email, or Facebook updates. 

“We’re finding out more about the people we care about,” said CU Boulder’s Brown. “We’re finding out [about] them sooner and we’re able to react to them more quickly.”

We’re connecting more, but is the connection as deep? Cantor doesn’t think so.

“In Facebook vs. Facetime [a presentation Cantor gives to students and business people], I talk about how each of our new devices takes away from face to face, and face to face is a really rich communication because of facial expressions, [tone of voice, gestures, eye contact, etc.], and all of that together tells us a lot more [than just words],” said Cantor. “The further we go the more we take away from the richness… and we seem to be happy with just the words.

“So we are connecting more and communicating less in a lot of these ways,” she concluded.

However, as Brown said, “the focus on technology is really on the ability to be more social and act more.  If you really think about the technology, that’s where they become successful.” 

Even though the quality of communicating may have decreased, as Cantor suggests, Brown also claims that technology can only ameliorate our relationships with each other and our world. It represents a progression in communication.

For Roberts and Hegg, their list of priorities changed once the unemployment check came in. Initially planning on getting a cell phone first, the couple, who is planning to get married in December, went on a pre-honeymoon to a local resort.

“We have been working seven days a week, we needed the break,” said Roberts.

But next on the list – the cell phone. Another check rolls in Friday, or Hegg might get paid for a construction job. Either way they plan on visiting Cricket Wireless within the week for a new phone. Although in this case, it seemed face-to-face won out over the “necessary” communication technology. •

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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