by Lynn Johnson, Human Services Director
comments open from November 20 until December 9
We are well into severe weather season for Jefferson County’s homeless and many of the providers who try to keep them warm and safe. Severe weather is defined as when the temperature is below 32 degrees and wet or below 20 degrees and dry. Last year, on a very cold night in January, 1,435 people were counted as homeless in Jefferson County; 72 percent of those households were families with children (2012 Point in Time count, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, MDHI). Homeless residents end up sleeping in cars, living on the street or staying in shelters when they are available. Other options for the homeless are limited.
The Severe Weather Network, a program of Plan to End Homelessness in Jefferson County, is a collaboration of non-profits, churches, government organizations and others, finding more options for homeless residents. Finding the financial resources for cold weather shelters are often challenging. However, thanks to the faith community, three churches have recently opened their doors through April 30, 2014, with many more congregations providing supportive services and financial help. We are sincerely appreciative for all of their efforts.
The Plan to End Homelessness in Jefferson County was created by Heading Home, a collaboration of individuals and public service organizations from the community determined to end homelessness in Jefferson County, and endorsed by the Jefferson County Child and Youth Leadership Commission in April of 2013. Jefferson County has had, and continues to have, one of the larger homeless populations of the suburban areas surrounding Denver. The Plan shifts our paradigm from one that reacts to homelessness to one that prevents and ends homelessness.
Communities with plans have seen significant savings in the areas of public systems including reduced use of emergency medical systems, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and acute psychiatric services. The community is invited to join this partnership to end homelessness. Contact Heading Home c/o Linda Barringer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 303-467-2604.