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Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) was established in 1984 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It was founded by a group of individuals with a will to take action on behalf of Colorado’s homeless. They recognized the struggles of working people living in poverty. And they refused to tolerate the dangers faced by those people sleeping in their cars, in tents or on the streets.
More than 25 years later, many of the underlying social causes of homelessness persist, like poverty, shortages of affordable housing, and unattainable healthcare. The Coalition’s integrated housing, healthcare and supportive service programs have been highly effective at responding to these conditions over time.
A major milestone for the organization was the opening of Stout Street Clinic in 1985 thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Since the Clinic’s grand opening and subsequent expansion in 2002, the Coalition has become the leading healthcare provider for the homeless in Colorado. The Clinic includes primary and pediatric care, an eye clinic, a full-service pharmacy, a dental clinic, mental health and substance abuse treatment, respite care and health outreach.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has been honored with a number of awards over the years. In 2002, the Coalition’s President, John Parvensky, received the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, recognizing his unique vision and leadership. Several of our affordable housing properties have earned national recognition: Renaissance at Loretto Heights, Renaissance at Concord Plaza, Renaissance at Civic Center, Renaissance Riverfront Lofts and The Forum Apartments. In 2008, President George W. Bush personally presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award to Cherie Yeager, a volunteer with the Stout Street Eye Clinic.
At the Colorado State Capitol, the Coalition has successfully advocated for more than a dozen major legislative efforts aimed at reducing homelessness, expanding affordable housing and protecting individual rights.
In 2010, the Coalition worked closely with the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, an interim committee of the legislature charged with finding ways to cut poverty in half in ten years. The task force advanced and successfully passed eight bills including a bill that will make it easier for municipalities and developers to enter into contracts to build more affordable housing.
In 2009, the Coalition led an aggressive nine-week campaign to restore the state’s Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND) program, reversing Governor Bill Ritter’s earlier decision to cut it. The long-standing program serves as a lifeline to over 10,000 of Colorado’s poorest, disabled citizens each year. Cutting the program would have pushed the majority of recipients into homelessness. The Coalition mobilized 49 organizations and individual advocates from around the state to successfully persuade the governor not to balance the budget at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable people.
In 2008, the Coalition helped ensure the passage of the Warranty of Habitability, a new law to hold landlords accountable for providing safe, habitable residential properties and give renters legal recourse when that minimum standard isn’t met. Looking forward, the Coalition will continue to work at local, state and federal levels to raise awareness and to find lasting solutions to homelessness.