Colorado Communities Unite to Help People Experiencing Homelessness
RMHS Participated in Events to Connect Individuals and Families Experiencing Homelessness to Services
Each year, thousands of people across the state will experience or be at risk for homelessness. They come from all walks of life, and each person has a unique story to tell about the road that led to homelessness.
The good news is that Colorado has a large, collaborative network of organizations working to support each person to find a path home. Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) is proud to be a part of that network.
Each year, communities across the state, including Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, host large events designed to provide access to an array of resources and services that support health and well-being and empower people to find stability and self-sufficiency. Some of these events focus specifically on services for veterans, and some cast a wider net with the hope of reaching as many people as possible. Each offers the opportunity for staff and volunteers to hear the stories and experiences of people experiencing homelessness and see beyond the statistics. According to the 2018 Point in Time Count conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the overall homeless population in the Denver-Metro region has increased slightly since last year. On the date of the survey, over 5,000 people identified as being homeless including families, veterans and unaccompanied youth. Even with the slight increase, overall the number has decreased 11 percent since 2015.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs partners with organizations supporting veterans to host Veteran Stand Downs across the nation. These collaborative events are a partnership between local VA Medical Centers, various government agencies and local service providers.
RMHS Homes for All Veterans (HAV) teams in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo actively participate in the Stand Downs events every year. HAV staff provide hygiene kits, gloves, hats and information about their housing program and resources. They also spend time talking to the veterans who pass through the event and listen to their stories. That connection supports the success of the HAV program. The program provides services to over 1,000 veterans per year.
It can often be difficult to connect and support veterans who are experiencing homelessness. “This isn’t a population that easily asks for help,” said HAV Veteran Support Specialist Scott Correa. “We tell them, ‘This is a program that you’ve earned through your service.’”
In Denver, the Mile High United Way and Denver’s Road Home join forces to host Project Homeless Connect. This massive event is similar in design to Veteran Stand Downs, but the focus is not exclusively on veterans. This year, more than 1,400 people attended and found support and resources. The event features an area specifically for veterans. Our HAV staff were there and started the application process for 15 people. Additionally, RMHS had a group of about a dozen staff who volunteered their time at the event.
Our Colorado communities are diverse and committed to supporting each person to be safe, healthy and reach their full potential. Rocky Mountain Human Services is honored to share in that commitment.