Item No. 2 - Homelessness issues in Wheat Ridge

Jefferson County Human Services and staff from the Wheat Ridge Police Department and City Manager’s Office will provide an update on the current status of homelessness in Wheat Ridge and the regional efforts underway to help address homelessness issues.
This is a recording of the July 20, 2020 City Council Study Session.

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Staff Memo ( 4.36 MB )

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This case is closed, online commenting is no longer available.
Online comments closed at 12:00 PM MDT 7/20/20.
My name is Nikki Reising. I am an advocate and service provider for those experiencing homelessness in Jefferson County. The Homeless Navigator positions are a much-needed regional effort in Jefferson County. The decision to create one full-time position by combining the Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and Golden roles is important to help support the regional effort. This will allow for the Navigator to provide better assistance to those experiencing homelessness in the given jurisdictions and better collaborate with the Navigators already working in these roles. Homeless outreach assistance is professional work that requires specific training and expertise. To reach permanent rather than short term results, outreach case managers must know the resources, have the training and be provided exceptional supervision. The main goal of successful homelessness outreach program is to end street homelessness. Reducing and effectively ending homelessness has been proven to lead to many community benefits, most often seen in the decreased use of emergency services. Once people are housed, their use of emergency services drastically decreases, leading to less of a strain on the health care and criminal justice systems. Health care professionals, police, attorneys, judges and whole communities can more effectively use their time and financial resources. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is ever more evident that housing is health care. As an expert in the field, it is my strong recommendation that the Navigator position be subcontracted to a local nonprofit organization in order to better provide effective training, support and resources. Nonprofits that have professionalized this much needed work rely on coordinated efforts between the private, public and nonprofit sectors. This coordinated work is made more efficient and effective through the use of the HMIS system and the CoC’s Coordinated Entry System, OneHome. Many nonprofits working with those experiencing homelessness access these systems to coordinate services between providers and access housing programs. Jefferson County currently has two organizations who are able to enter housing assessments known as VI-SPDATs into the OneHome system. Both organizations mainly require that clients come to the organizations’ buildings and do not have the capacity to meet clients where they are. We know that the most vulnerable in this population has trouble getting to resources. Having an outreach worker or team that is able to meet people outside in order to provide this assessment will lead to more people accessing housing programs, especially the most vulnerable. It’s exciting to hit the ground running with a position like this, so it can be helpful to work with community members who have tools and resources already in action. Front Range Outreach (FRO) would make a great partner for this position. We could potentially provide safety and social training, coordination of services, HMIS access, etc. FRO is a non-profit organization I founded a few months ago, a 501(c)(3), incorporated in the state of Colorado, and a member of the Metro Denver CoC, with HMIS training and access. The Mission of Front Range Outreach is to support and advocate for people experiencing homelessness, working in partnership to create permanent solutions to end homelessness in Colorado. During the pandemic, FRO has been conducting various homelessness outreach services in Jefferson County. This has been an extremely difficult time; our homeless population is struggling more than they ever have. Over the past few months we have: • Provided outdoor survival supplies and necessities • Assisted clients with accessing physical and mental health care • Provided Narcan for drug overdose medical emergencies • Assisted people in accessing safety and criminal justice services • Administered VI-SPDATs and coordinated with the HMIS system • Created training modules for outreach workers/case managers FRO is prepared to expand and meet the challenge within the county to end street homelessness. As a nonprofit with expertise in homeless outreach services, Front Range Outreach is in a unique and active position to provide expert staff with years of experience, specialized trainings, established community partnerships, and successful outcomes. Thank you for your time.
July 20, 2020, 12:00 PM
Nikki Reising
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