Denver's Road Home project was founded in 2005 with a goal of ending homelessness in 10 years. Five years into their efforts, Amber Callender, the executive director, says the program is on track to meet their goals. One of the keys to their success is encouraging local businesses to give their clients jobs as the first step out of poverty.
Ed Blair, general manager of an upscale downtown hotel, was skeptical at first to hire homeless or former homeless workers. Despite his initial fears he has hired several Road Home clients and they have become some of his best employees.
Another key to ending Denver's homelessness is permanent housing. The nonprofit Colorado Coalition for the Homeless operates many of the housing units and is set to open 98 loft-style apartments in the coming weeks. Half of the units will be for homeless individuals and families while the other half will be for low income workers. A pizza restaurant on the ground level will be a source of employment for many of the residents.
The Coalition provides job training, unless mental or physical health issues prevent someone from working, as well as medical care and substance abuse counseling.
While all of these efforts are helping to end homelessness in Denver, 10,000 people are still living on the streets. With a struggling national economy, Denver nonprofits have seen a 20 percent increase in needs for their services. In order to provide more services, women's shelters, soup kitchens, and medical clinics are now coordinated under Road Home. With less than five years until their target date, Denver nonprofits still confident they can eradicate homelessness in their community.
"Within the first five years, we have actually accomplished so much more than this community even dreamed possible. We have created nearly 2,000 units of permanent housing for formerly homeless individuals to live in. We have prevented over 5,000 people from becoming homeless in the first place, and mentored families, to the tune of 780, out of homelessness through our faith community." Amber Callender, Executive Director of Road Home
"I think that there's a great hunger and a great passion to return to a stable life. And part of that recovery and self-sufficiency process, a critical component, is employment. So, we find an extremely high level of motivation and hunger to be successful." Ed Blair, general manager of Oxford Hotel.
"Our success rate is, about 90 to 95 percent of folks that we are able to move off the street into housing are stable in housing after two years." John Parvensky, president, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
1. Why are some people homeless? Name two ways someone or a family can become homeless.
2. What is poverty?
3. What are some issues that must be addressed to help someone find and keep a home?
1. How would being homeless make school and the things you do every day more difficult?
2. If your family was at risk of losing your home, where would you go? What options would you have?
3. Are there any nonprofits or charities in your community that work with the homeless? What types of resources or services do they provide?