Is Your State Winning The Fight Against Homelessness?

Is Your State Winning The Fight Against Homelessness?

The Centennial State has been a model for how a state can use policy to effectively combat homelessness. It has been “very aggressive” in fighting chronic homelessness, Poppe noted, by providing homeless people with housing without first requiring them to beat any addiction or health problems they may have. This “Housing First” model, by not first requiring homeless individuals to get clean, is actually far more effective at helping homeless people get back on their feet because it gives their lives significantly more stability, allowing them to focus on other issues. State and local communities have coupled this effort with support services, including health care and job training. Poppe credited Governor John Hickenlooper (D) for spearheading the effort, first as Mayor of Denver and then as Governor. Colorado is also leading the way in showing that it’s not just more humane, but also less expensive to provide housing to homeless people instead of leaving them on the streets.

Metro Denver Point-in-Time Count

Each year, the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI) organizes a collaborative effort to survey the homeless people in their community. The information gathered from the survey provide a “snapshot” of the individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness on the night of January 27, 2014. The Point-in-Time Count provides a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons. Counts are further broken down into subpopulation categories including counts of persons who are chronically homeless, persons with severe mental illness, chronic substance abusers, Veterans, persons with HIV/AIDS, and victims of domestic violence.

Go to for more information and to sign up to assist with this vital effort.

Created by MDHI with VI data, the graphic below helps illustrate the role that data-collection plays in changing public perception of homelessness in Colorado.


Check out these great signs our office helped create for the 2013 Pedal the Plains Fort Lyon tour. The signs, available at the link below, provide an overview of homelessness in Colorado and information about some of the dynamic solutions contained within Pathways Home Colorado.

Pedal the Plains Signs

As Pedal The Plains riders travel from Lamar to La Junta, they had the opportunity to tour the Fort Lyon grounds and learn about the ways that program participants are engaged in the overall operations of the campus including food services, facilities maintenance, grounds maintenance, housekeeping and waste water management.


Gov. John Hickenlooper joined Pedal The Plains cyclists and Bent County residents at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly reopened Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community.

“Fort Lyon will give homeless veterans and others the opportunity to gain new job and life skills,” Hickenlooper said. “This collaborative effort between the General Assembly and Bent County transitioned the historic facility into its new purpose of helping the state’s most vulnerable individuals. We thank everyone involved in making the opening a reality.”

Fort Lyon3

The 550-acre Fort Lyon facility, which will offer recovery oriented transitional housing for up to 300 homeless individuals with mental health and substance abuse disabilities, has admitted 25 residents from Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo since opening on Sept. 3, 2013.

“With its combination of counseling, educational, vocational and employment services, Fort Lyon will become an internationally replicated model in the effort to end homelessness,” said Pat Coyle, Director of the Colorado Division of Housing. “During Pedal The Plains individuals from across the globe will have the opportunity to see firsthand the bold steps Colorado is taking to serve those most in need.”

Fort Lyon

Pedal The Plains, with its emphasis on economic development, also provide an opportunity for Bent County residents to find out how to support Fort Lyon’s community-oriented mission.

Collaborative service providers from Otero Junior College, Lamar Community College, Southeast Mental Health Services, Prowers, Medical Center and Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc joined the governor at the ribbon-cutting, which will included remarks from Sen. Larry Crowder, Pat Coyle, and Bent County Commissioner Bill Long.

The repurposing is part of Pathways Home Colorado’s ongoing effort to replicate best practice models, support regional priorities and become more strategic in preventing and ending homelessness.

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