We all agree that more should be done to lift people out of homelessness in Boulder and know that it requires substantial financial resources to do so, whether it’s mental health programs, substance abuse programs, needed housing, or ready-to-work programs. Boulder will need to rely on funds and other support from county, state, and non-governmental sources to make meaningful progress. We must start with compassion. We must treat people as individuals. There is not one reason why people fall into homelessness and so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Boulder created Coordinated Entry (CE), an intake center to assess the needs of each individual and connect them with the appropriate services when available. Boulder also took a “housing first” approach under the belief that a stable, four-walled environment was key to lifting people out of homelessness. Boulder now has a good foundation for reducing homelessnesess. However, we need to add to that and find alternatives, like group homes, for people who are not quite ready or able to live on their own. Laslty, we need more wrap around services and employment programs.
Here are my top priorities:
- Prioritize funding for and expansion of mental health and substance abuse programs. We need to take a strong, coordinated approach to lobby on a regional level for state and federal funding. Two proposed state-wide programs to expand inpatient and outpatient care for mental illness and substance abuse would provide key short and long-term treatment. Long-term outpatient recovery programs (e.g. housing, therapy, medication) are needed to prevent relapse.
- Integrate Coordinated Entry with local employment programs, such as Bridge House. Programs that offer paid work, dormitory living, and case management as a path to mainstream jobs, are proven ways to help people out of homelessness.
- I believe we should enforce the camping ban in a compassionate manner, which we now do, and redirect those experiencing homelessness to the appropriate residential and/or treatment program that meets their unique needs. Let’s focus our efforts trying to get people out of homelessness, whether it be housing, group homes, or many of the new and innovative ideas that are working in other like-minded cities.