Last Friday, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce hosted a Community Impact Breakfast to present the current challenge and varied approaches to solving homelessness in the community. Some of Jefferson County’s most influential leaders connected to this critical topic provided updates on their work and met with members after the breakfast.
We want to thank all the community leaders who presented at this breakfast. Diane Howald, from the Metro Denver Housing Initiative, presented a detailed overview of homelessness in Jefferson County. A panel discussion of experts followed, which included: Scott Shields (CEO at Family Tree), Dr. Mark Johnson (Executive Director at Jefferson County Public Health), Officer Sara Horan (Homeless Liaison with Arvada PD), Jessica Hansen (Director at Jefferson County Human Services), and Judge David Cooke (Arvada Municipal Court). City Manager Mark Deven also provided an update on the city’s efforts to solve homelessness.
View a video of the panel discussion:
Additionally, we want to thank our bright spot partners in the community, who provided updates on their work:
- Sam Olson, Adams County Government
- Linda Barringer, Heading Home
- Sandy Martin, Community Table
- Karen Cowling and Rebel Rodriguez, The Rising Church
- Drew Ross, Bethlehem Lutheran
- Lisa Steven, Hope House of Colorado
“If I really had the power, I would immunize our children against alcoholism and drug use, I would find appropriate treatment for mental health, I would get equity for programs and services, and I would outlaw the idea that there are deserving poor and undeserving poor.” – Dr. Mark Johnson
For those unable to attend, below are five key takeaways from the breakfast:
- According to Diane Howald, there are three categories of homelessness: Literal (staying in shelters or in cars), In-Between Addresses (couch surfing), and Unstably Housed (residents of supportive, transitional, or permanent supportive housing). In 2018, 577 people surveyed in Jefferson County were experiencing literal homelessness.
- In 2018, Colorado had the 3rd highest rate of family homelessness in the nation. Additionally, Scott Shields pointed out that the Jefferson County School District has the highest number of identified homeless students in Colorado.
- One of the greatest barriers to solving homelessness is providing housing that’s not only affordable, but available. Jessica Hansen noted that in Jefferson County, the vacancy rate is under 3%.
- “Employment is the way out of homelessness,” said Jessica Hansen. “Income is the way to supporting families out of homelessness.” She added that if the only option is minimum wage jobs, you may need to take two or three jobs to pay rent. To better understand living wage calculations, please view our community livability report.
- Judge David Cooke and City Manager Mark Deven introduced a new docket called One Small Step, debuting in June. Through this program, Arvada PD will schedule court appearances for those identified as visibly homeless on Thursdays. The court will then have human services, social services, and a navigator on site to assist. Anyone interested in providing services or opportunities as part of this program should contact Mark Deven’s office.
- Metro Denver Housing Initiative, leading and advancing collaboration to end homelessness in our region.
- HousingFirst, a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness.
- Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a local information technology system used to collect client-level data and data on the provision of housing and services to homeless individuals and families and persons at risk of homelessness.
- The College Gateway Program, Red Rocks Community College
- Arvada Works: A Talent Pipeline Program from the Arvada Chamber of Commerce
- Denverite article, March 14, 2019: “New report shows just 26 homes available for every 100 very low-income Denver-area households.”
If you are interested in hearing the full breakfast presentation, please find the audio below.
- [1:23 ] Keynote presentation from Diane Howald, Community Engagement Manager at the Metro Denver Housing Initiative
- [15:00] Panel discussion with the experts: Scott Shields (CEO at Family Tree), Dr. Mark Johnson (Executive Director at Jefferson County Public Health), Officer Sara Horan (Homeless Liaison with Arvada PD), Jessica Hansen (Director at Jefferson County Human Services), and Judge David Cooke (Arvada Municipal Court).
- [19:47] Short overviews of each panelist’s work.
- [27.59] Describe the current state of affairs in our backyard as it relates to homelessness.
- [38:15] From your vantage point, what does the issue of hidden homelessness mean for our community?
- [40:08] What are some of the barriers that pose the greatest challenge to the work that you want to do to help homelessness?
- [45:36] You have the opportunity to do whatever you want to end homelessness. What would you do to solve the issue?
- [49:15] What would you ask of the Arvada business community to be an active participant in this issue?
- [57:52] City of Arvada update from City Manager Mark Devon
Join us on April 19 for the Annual State of the City Address with Arvada Mayor Marc Williams! You will walk away with a complete update on community happenings and future plans. Click HERE to register!