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Homelessness Strategy

Homelessness Strategy

 

Summary

Addressing homelessness is a high priority for City Council and the community. Preventing, addressing and reducing homelessness are also key goals of the Boulder County Ten-Year Plan to Address Homelessness (TYP).

The city is working with community partners to develop a City of Boulder Homeless Action Plan to better guide city actions under the umbrella of the TYP. Many strategies are being implemented to address homelessness in the community.

Homelessness Strategy Purpose

The purpose of the City of Boulder Homelessness Strategy is to:

  1. clarify city goals in addressing homelessness in Boulder;
  2. maximize efficiency and effectiveness of city resources in reducing homelessness;
  3. engage community partners more broadly in solutions; and
  4. Provide a strategic road map for city action on homelessness

In April 2015, staff provided City Council with the Homelessness Strategy Framework pdf, which outlines draft guiding principles, goals, implementation strategies and action items for the City of Boulder Homelessness Strategy.

Elements of the framework have been developed based on:

  • Key guiding plans previously approved by the city, including the TYP;
  • National best practices and federal policy;
  • Direction from City Council; and
  • Consultation with local providers of homeless services.

Next steps include further opportunities for members of the public to provide input and perspective on the Homelessness Strategy and the issues of homelessness in the City of Boulder. The schedule of events and online opportunities to comment on these issues will be published in concert with opportunities for public engagement on the Human Services Strategy.

Council memos related to the Homelessness Strategy can be found here.

2014-15 Accomplishments and Current Efforts

The City of Boulder supports and partners in a number of initiatives to address homelessness:

  • City of Boulder investments of approximately $4 million since 2008 in housing for low-income and homeless people have helped hundreds of people avoid or exit homelessness. Thirty-one new units of supportive housing opened in November 2014, housing approximately ten percent of the estimated chronically homeless population countywide. In addition, 48 people in employment training programs will gain transitional housing in July 2015 with support from the City.
  • The city is a partner in regional initiatives to improve service coordination, expand housing access and better assess the needs of our homeless population. Examples include the 25 Cities Initiative which has resulted in at least 30 people from Boulder County being matched with housing resources, and enabled us to access housing resources beyond our own county.
  • Standardizing data collection – a common vulnerability assessment tool is now being used by most major homeless services providers in the city, and a profile has been developed of some of the most vulnerable.
  • The city is working with the seven-county Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and Denver Metro Mayors Caucus Subcommittee on Homelessness to advance the goal of regional coordination and support, including a campaign recruiting landlords to provide units for more people eligible for rental assistance programs. Thirty six landlords throughout the region have committed, including some with units in Boulder. The first Boulder family was placed in a unit through this program in June 2015.
  • The Boulder County Consortium of Cities, including the City of Boulder, are working together to jointly fund and support a permanent supportive housing needs assessment across the County.
  • Local Governor’s Supportive Housing Toolkit Team - Attention Homes, Boulder County Housing Authority, Boulder Housing Partners, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Bridge House partnered to develop a permanent supportive housing development concept. Potential sites in county under consideration.
  • Adult Homeless Providers Collaborate on Assessment - Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO), Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Bridge House jointly embarked on a consultant evaluation (Burnes Report) of their opportunities to better coordinate services. The three agencies have ongoing weekly meetings, and are implementing more consistent data reporting.
  • BOHO created women-only and residents warming centers for ongoing clients with good behavior records.
  • The Municipal Court connects homeless defendants with the Bridge House Resource Center, to stop the emergency services/law enforcement “revolving door” and help people access services more effectively. The city is now expanding on this partnership by creating the “High Utilizer Project” to focus intensive resources and support on homeless defendants with highest number of violations – reducing impacts on law enforcement, court system and public spaces.
  • The Boulder Police Department (BPD) responded to safety concerns of the community and increased police presence in the downtown area. This is part of a collaborative effort with other City departments including Human Services, the City Attorney’s Office, Parks and Recreation and Boulder Municipal Court. 
  • BPD is collaborating with Mental Health Partners to implement a grant-funded early intervention program called EDGE.  EDGE teams police officers with mental health clinicians to proactively provide immediate mental health resources to those in need and to divert individuals with behavioral health conditions from the justice system.
  • At least 25 people from Boulder County have been accepted into Fort Lyon, a supportive residential program in Bent County for people experiencing homelessness and in need of substance use treatment.
  • In 2014 the city provided nearly $700,000 to community organizations through the Human Services Fund to support programs offering food, shelter, health, mental health, case management, help with benefits, employment training and connections to long-term housing solutions. Results of this funding are summarized below.    

2014 Results - City Supported Services Through the Human Services Fund

  • More than 450 people received employment training, and subsequently gained employment.
  • More than 2,800 people at-risk of homelessness have received temporary assistance with rent, utilities or other expenses to prevent a costly slide into homelessness.
  • 7836 meals served/food distributed.
  • More than 2,720 people received emergency overnight shelter.
  • Approximately 200 people were provided with transitional housing.
  • Almost 850 people received onsite medical, mental health or substance use services at homeless service organizations.
  • Approximately 46 people maintained or obtained permanent housing.

For more information, please see the Boulder County Ten-Year Plan to Address Homelessness and Ten-Year Plan Accomplishments. pdf

Next Steps:

  1. Homelessness Strategy stakeholder engagement third and fourth quarters, 2015;
  2. City Council check-in as part of the Human Services Strategy Update, October 27, 2015.
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