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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News Briefs: Growing hungry

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

Fifty million people struggled for food in 2008, or one out of every six people according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This included 16.7 million children. Among household types, several stood out at rates above the national average of 14.6 percent. Families living below the poverty line had a 42 percent rate of food insecurity; single mother households had 37.2 percent; and Hispanic households and Black households had just over a 25 percent rate of food insecurity. Food security has only been tracked since 1995, when rates were around 10.3 percent and had a slow rise to 11.1 percent by 2007. They have spiked in the last year.  As households struggle with the effects of the recession, those who experience hunger are expected to continue to rise. Colorado’s rate was 11.6 percent. The state with the lowest rate was South Dakota at 6.9 percent and the highest was Mississippi at 17.4 percent.