Homeless and Social Issues Action Plan
Addressing homelessness continues to be a high priority issue for City Council and the community. Developing effective strategies for preventing, addressing and reducing homelessness are also key goals of the Boulder County Ten-year Plan to Address Homelessness.
Increasingly, concerns have been raised about negative social behavior among both the homeless and non-homeless in the city, particularly those that congregate in the municipal campus area, Pearl Street Mall and commercial districts. Intimidating, inappropriate and illegal behaviors create an unwelcoming and negative social environment for residents, visitors and business. These behaviors are not driven by housing status and occur among diverse populations in the community.
The goals of the Homeless and Social Issues Action plan are to:
- articulate the different issues that have been identified, current efforts and successful strategies that have worked elsewhere; and
- develop strategic options for supporting and addressing homeless and social behavior issues.
The city is currently working with community partners to more effectively address homelessness as part of the Boulder County Ten-year Plan to Address Homelessness and to recommend strategies to address city-specific issues. The Homeless Planning group includes representatives of city departments and community nonprofits. Current work has focused on understanding the issues and populations and gathering data.
Based on this work, the Human Services Department is coordinating with other city departments (Municipal Court, Police, City Attorney's Office, Parks and Recreation, Downtown and University Hill Management Division/Parking Services, and Library) to develop a Homeless and Social Issues Action Plan to:
- better assist our homeless population;
- access needed resources;
- coordinate service delivery;
- gather better data to help inform future priorities, strategies and funding; and
- identify options for addressing negative social behaviors that create an intimidating and unwelcoming environment in the community.
The action plan will include identifying key city goals related to supporting and addressing homelessness and options for strategic support to address these issues. Social strategies will include options and approaches for addressing behaviors in public spaces that negatively impact business activity and the ability of all residents and visitors to feel safe.
Status and Potential Next Steps
City Council direction for the Homeless and Social Issues Action Plan goals and priorities will be requested in the first quarter of 2014
Recommendations for potential changes to the current panhandling ordinance or other ordinances are scheduled for the second quarter of 2014, following City Council direction.
The Department of Human Services works to reduce homelessness and homeless-related issues by partnering in the development and implementation of key strategic plans, including the Boulder County Ten-year Plan to Address Homelessness. Core activities include:
- grants and other assistance to community organizations to provide services, including shelter, food, health, mental health benefits and employment assistance;
- providing programs and services that help people to stay employed and housed, such as child care subsidies and enforcement of the City of Boulder's human rights ordinance;
- implementation of regional initiatives to improve service coordination, such as the joint grant management system with Boulder County and the City of Longmont; and
- partnership with the community, including the Homelessness Planning Group, to develop recommendations for homeless-related issues facing Boulder.