The Adams County commissioners approved two new positions to address homelessness in the community in response to an assessment completed by University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work.
“There are different facets of homelessness …
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Did you know? Colorado’s homeless population increased six percent from 2015 to 2016, according to a study completed by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Centennial State was one of the top five highest increases of any state in the nation.
“There are different facets of homelessness right now in Adams County,” County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said. “It’s everything from the homeless encampments along The Platte River all the way to the mom and two kids living in a car.”
The price of living is increasing and the wages aren’t keeping up—which puts a lot of pressure on families, he said.
The University of Denver assessment surveyed current resources available to the homeless and developed a long-term list of recommendations, extending through ten years, for strategies to help this population.
“Housing is the biggest problem; if they don’t have any place to stay, you’re not going to get anywhere with recovery,” Rick Doucet, CEO of Community Reach Center said.
Community Reach Center is a local nonprofit which provides mental health services within Adams County.
“I would like to see more services available in Adams County,” County Commissioner Eva Henry said. “Right now, most of them are in Denver.”
Henry said she has heard stories of individuals walking eight miles from Adams County to Denver to find shelters and food banks.
Henry is hoping the new hires will facilitate partnerships with neighboring municipalities and other social service providers, like Community Reach Center.
Similarly, the major findings of the study included that there is a lack of resources available and a need for a long-term plan to address the issue of homelessness with programs that work towards prevention.
“Like most other jurisdictions across the country, there is insufficient housing to address the needs of the County’s individuals who are experiencing homelessness,” the study stated.
Through speaking to homeless campers, the study identified showers, employment assistance, help getting identification, storage and help to find housing are the most pressing needs.
The county is currently drafting two job descriptions for new positions to utilize the study’s results and recommendations to devise a plan.
“Some recommendations are really easy and others are going to take some serious consideration,” O’Dorisio said, citing cost as a big factor of what will be possible.
“[We need] a regional partnership,” Henry said. “All of us understand how important this is in our community.”
Without a regional collaboration, the homeless population will migrate out of Adams County and into neighboring areas like Commerce City, Henry continued.
“We need to work together on this issue,” Henry said. “If we don’t, we’re just pushing this problem from one municipality to another.
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