For Immediate Release
May 20, 2019
Vice President of Communications and Public Policy
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Calls on Mayoral Candidates to Make Resolving Homelessness a Priority in Denver
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless calls on Denver’s two mayoral candidates, Michael Hancock and Jaime Giellis, to endorse a bold plan with committed resources to resolving homelessness in our great city. We urge the candidates to deeply engage in the conversations that were ignited by Initiative 300 and not walk away from addressing the frustration and outrage from which it was borne. The candidates must embrace a repeal of Denver’s Urban Camping Ban and other laws that criminalize the activities that people experiencing homelessness must undertake for basic survival in light of the lack of adequate and accessible emergency shelter and dearth of affordable housing options. The current system has failed to adequately provide safe and appropriate alternatives to living on the streets for everyone experiencing homelessness in Denver and the current candidates are being called to action to identify solutions and resources that can be employed immediately to improve the lives of all members of our Denver community.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has long advocated for long-term and lasting solutions to end homelessness. We believe that a lasting solution requires an adequate supply of affordable housing dedicated to people experiencing homelessness, and a robust emergency response system that has safe, appropriate, and accessible emergency shelter until long-term housing can be obtained.
It is long overdue for Denver to identify a dedicated funding source for homelessness housing and services. The City and business community must commit to exploring long-term funding options to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness through executive and City Council action, or through a 2020 ballot measure that identifies a permanent, dedicated, and coordinated funding source of at least $50 million annually for housing and services.
Until that funding is secured, we urge the candidates for mayor of Denver to immediately commit to and identify an investment plan for the following six items:
- Absent a clear threat to public health and safety, the City should cease enforcing laws against people experiencing homelessness that punish survival activities like sheltering until such time as it can be demonstrated that the City is making the necessary investments to ensure that people have safe, alternative spaces to live.
- The City, in collaboration with homeless service agencies and advocates, should develop and fund the immediate expansion of emergency shelter beds. These beds must address the current barriers to accessing existing shelters, including providing for possessions, partners, and pets. Further, the City must also explore alternative shelter arrangements for specialized populations and account for the significant loss of beds the current plan has identified.
- The City should continue to facilitate conversion, where appropriate, of existing emergency shelters into 24-hour shelter facilities with on-site services designed to help those experiencing crisis to obtain long-term housing as soon as possible. This must be done in collaboration with current service providers in a manner that provides safe alternative spaces for those forced to live outside.
- The City should fund at least 600 “bridge housing” vouchers with housing counseling, case management and other support services including vocational services, dedicated to allowing those currently on the streets to rapidly move into vacant apartments while long-term affordable and supportive housing is developed in accordance with the Denver Affordable Housing Plan. These vouchers could be phased out once construction of new permanent supportive housing is completed and the vouchers are no longer needed.
- The City must expedite the development of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) targeted to those currently on the streets. The current pipeline of PSH projects is not sufficient to address the crisis of growing encampments. The City must create programs and incentives in consultation with the Housing Advisory Committee to encourage and expedite the development of these critical housing units in a way that is not solely reliant on federal and state tax credits.
- The City should commit resources to expand outreach services. Outreach services are an essential bridge between living on the streets and finding long-term housing solutions, and these services must at least mirror the needs of the community.
About Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for people experiencing and at-risk of homelessness homeless throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 18,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.