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Homelessness icon  Homelessness

Need help? For information on Severe Weather Shelter and all other Homelessness Resources, please visit: Get Help: Homelessness Resources in Boulder

64 exit homelessness

Since launching the new homeless services system in October 2017, 64 individuals have been housed or returned to a support system. More information can be found here.



Homelessness is a top priority in the City of Boulder, with a new Homelessness Strategy approved in June 2017.

Homelessness Strategy Vision

Boulder residents, including families and individuals, have opportunities to achieve or maintain a safe, stable home in the community.

The Homelessness Strategy (Strategy) seeks to achieve that vision by pursuing 6 key goals:

Goal 1: Expand pathways to permanent housing and retention

Goal 2: Expand access to programs and services to reduce or prevent homelessness

Goal 3: Support an efficient and effective services system based on best practice and data-driven results

Goal 4: Support access to a continuum of basic services as part of a pathway to self-sufficiency and stability

Goal 5: Support access to public information about homelessness and community solutions

Goal 6: Create public spaces that are welcoming and safe for residents and visitors

More information on the homelessness strategy can be found here .

Implementing the Homelessness Strategy Vision

The city is actively working on Homelessness Strategy Goals through a variety of initiatives. Three key initiatives for 2017 include:

  • Keep Families Housed Pilot;
  • Implementing coordinated entry, navigation services and program-based sheltering services; and
  • Housing Target Implementation

Keep Families Housed Pilot

Families are an important part of the city’s Homelessness Strategy. In 2017, the city partnered with Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) on the Keep Families Housed Pilot, with a funding investment of $263,000.

The Keep Families Housed Pilot aims to prevent families from falling into homelessness with $500 of short-term rental assistance to stay in current housing for up to three months. Keep Families Housed was launched in January 2017. As of June 30, 164 families had received a first rental assistance payment, 101 a second payment and 35 a third payment in compliance with the established triggers on children and family stability/well-being benchmarks. Example benchmarks:

  • All eligible children in the household enrolled in Medicaid or CHP+
  • All eligible children receive SNAP and WIC benefits
  • Parents have completed at least one Boulder County Financial Stability class, or participated in a 1:1 financial session with Boulder County Community Education.

There have been significant improvements measured in household self-sufficiency between the first and subsequent rental payments, including short-term progress on money management, income, employment and food security. An independent evaluation of the program has been contracted to the OMNI Institute, with follow-up surveys in January 2018 to measure the effect on family well-being and housing stability after 12 months of implementation.

Adult Homeless Services System Implementation

A major initiative for 2017 is implementing  a new emergency sheltering and services model for single adults in Boulder that focuses on coordinated entry, navigation services, prioritizing resources and a housing path for higher-need people. This new model was developed by a Working Group convened in the fall of 2016, comprised of city and county staff, homeless service providers, a mental health professional and homeless client representatives.

The Working Group Report and Plan was completed on May 16, 2017 and includes the following key recommendations:

  • Implement a coordinated entry system: One-two “doors” in the community as entry points for everyone seeking help.
  • Implement a common assessment tool to assess everyone before services; to understand and target needs appropriately.
  • Prioritize support and community resources for people with higher support needs that cannot self-resolve quickly. Allow them to stay in program-based shelter (daytime and overnight) until placed in housing.
  • Develop navigation (diversion) programming for people not best served by entering the system. Include some emergency sheltering for people in Navigation plans which require more than one day to complete.
  • Implement housing targets and consistent housing investment for exit strategies. Set a target of 60 new units (25 in Boulder) each year for three years.
  • Use real-time data feedback for testing assumptions and adjusting system elements.
  • Include options for emergency severe/unusual weather sheltering. 

Key system elements being implemented in Fall 2017 are described below. For more information on services available October 1, 2017, see the countywide homeless systems update .

Services Flow in New System

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Coordinated Entry and Navigation Services

Coordinated entry and navigation services are key elements of the adult homeless service system redesign included in the goals for the City of Boulder Homelessness Strategy.

Coordinated entry is a national best practice and will be implemented countywide with standardized procedures. All homeless adults seeking services will enter through a limited number of community entry points, where they are assessed with common screening tools and matched with appropriate service and housing paths. The City of Boulder, in partnership with Boulder County and the City of Longmont, accepted a Letter of Intent (LOI) from Boulder Shelter for the Homeless (Shelter) to provide coordinated entry services.

Navigation services are intended to eliminate or reduce time in local homeless services for lower-need persons that may be able to resolve their housing crisis with limited short-term assistance. Overnight shelter will be available for up to 50 adults with navigation plans. The navigation concept is based on the national best practice known as diversion. The City of Boulder accepted an LOI from Bridge House to provide navigation services within Boulder.

The City of Longmont is completing a parallel process to procure a provider of navigation services for Longmont residents. The cities of Boulder and Longmont will work closely together with selected vendors to ensure service consistency countywide.

Coordinated entry and daytime navigation services will be co-located to facilitate quick resolution and a “warm handoff” for services. Overnight navigation services may be located at the same site. People assessed with moderate/high needs through coordinated entry will be connected to more intensive, housing-focused shelter services planned at the Shelter. Potential coordinated entry/navigation service sites are currently being reviewed.

Housing-Focused Shelter

Boulder Shelter for the Homeless (Shelter) is the planned location for housing-focused shelter (HFS). HFS is year-round, ongoing shelter for moderate- and high-need for people that are longer-term local residents unable to resolve their housing crisis without significant support.

HFS participants stay in shelter, with intensive support, until permanently housed at other locations. These residents will be screened before acceptance, through the new countywide coordinated entry system, and assessed for the right services and housing solution.

HFS would replace the previous lottery system where people with various needs entered on a night-by-night basis without screening, assessment or ongoing programming.

This change is based on national best practices and policy to effectively address homelessness,  stabilize residents with the most need, get them into housing more quickly, and reduce demand on overall emergency systems.

Boulder Shelter Management Plan Updates, Feedback & the Good Neighbor Process

The Shelter operates under a management plan, which describes how the shelter will operate including hours of operation. A management plan is a requirement of the land use approval obtained from the city for the Shelter site in 2003.

Some changes planned as part of HFS are not consistent with the current Shelter management plan. The Shelter is implementing a Good Neighbor Process to get neighborhood feedback on these changes. For information on proposed management plan changes, and opportunities to provide input, see Good Neighbor Process Frequently Asked Questions .

Additional information on the management plan and Good Neighbor Process are available on the Shelter website at .

Housing Target Implementation

The City of Boulder Division of Housing has convened a working group of housing and service providers to identify and implement actionable items to generate affordable units serving those most vulnerable to a lack of housing, including those who are chronically homeless. Focused on generating more permanently supportive units, the following strategies are being implemented in 2017:

  • The City of Boulder Housing Division supports BSH and Boulder Housing Partners for Continuum of Care funding through the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative to increase local homeless housing resources by 36 vouchers with a match  commitment of $200,000 annually for three years. These local funds will begin to expend in 2017.
  • Continue to identify resources to further support housing vouchers or provide financial subsidy to afford rents/security deposits.
  • Use local resources to identify and subsidize units in existing affordable housing rental inventory to designate as transitional or permanently supportive housing as well as work to have these units in new developments.
  • Continue exploration and implementation of policies that create housing opportunities those earning 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and below, with priority for residents exiting transitional housing or qualifying for rapid rehousing.

Staff Contact

Wendy Schwartz, Homeless Programs Manager,  [email protected] , 303-441-1818.

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