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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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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Hot Town, Colorado

The flashpoint for a new boom cycle in uranium mining started in January, as President Obama called out for “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.” Following his speech, the White House outlined a program in the 2011 budget with $55 billion in loan guarantees to build new plants across the country. In Colorado, the result has been very partisan battle lines being drawn, and citizens from across the state pouring into the Western Slope region in a fight over the past, present and future of Colorado.

With the desperation for jobs on the Western Slope reaching a fevered pitch, pro-mining voices are now vying against the health concerns of residents and activists. However, unlike past fights over the issue, environmentalism and the tourism industry are now standing toe to toe against the uranium and vanadium economy.

 

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