As the 2016 National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week draws to a close, we share this from Family Promise of Greater Denver. It reminds us to remain vigilant to the persistent problem of homelessness in our community.
Neighbors in Need
By Family Promise of Greater Denver
A Covenanting Affiliated Partner of the Colorado Council of Churches
Our community is changing. What was once affordable housing is now two or three times the cost. And while job loss was the leading cause of homelessness among the families we serve, is it now rising rents.
There are 10,000 individuals experiencing homelessness across Colorado. More than half are in Denver’s seven-county metro area, and families make up the largest segment. The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative conducted a Point-in-Time survey of individuals and families in need of shelter in January 2016. The survey found 5,467 homeless, including 2,472 or 45% who were part of families with children. Almost one-fifth of individuals were newly homeless. And 51.4% of all respondents were in transitional housing, 34.2% were in emergency shelters and 14.4% did not have shelter on the night of the survey.
Nationally, rents are increasing faster than inflation, and locally, Denver’s rental prices are continuing to rise. “In many places across America, there is simply not enough affordable housing available to move people out of homelessness and into permanent housing,” according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Without this housing stock, many homeless Americans are likely to remain stuck in the homeless assistance system.”
To address these concerns, the Metro Mayors Caucus and others have also come together to create the Landlords Opening Doors campaign, a collaborative initiative to pair individuals and families with housing they can afford. In return, landlords receive long-term, respectful tenants who often provide guaranteed rent through housing assistance. It’s a win/win. Family Promise of Greater Denver has partnered with the campaign, and we’re doing all we can to move families from a life of despair to stability and a brighter future.
And we’re focused on building deeper relationships with each family in our program. Since 1997, we have provided emergency shelter, food and supportive services to more than 1,100 families experiencing homelessness. We do that by partnering with faith communities, and we nurture relationships with program guests through our HOME initiative, rental assistance and mentor opportunities to truly break the cycle of homelessness.