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Denver Homelessness Commission Moves to Restructure to Reflect Changing Needs of People Experiencing Homelessness

 

DENVER – The City and County of Denver, led by Denver’s Road Home and Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s new Office of Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE), announced today the city’s longstanding Commission on Homelessness will dissolve and reform with new purpose and focus on serving the city’s changing population of people experiencing homelessness. The move came after more than two hours of discussion at the commission’s most recent regular meeting. Re-engaging the commission is one of the 30 short-term action items unveiled by Mayor Hancock and the Office of HOPE on Friday at the Denver Housing Summit.

“The work the Commission on Homelessness has accomplished over the last eleven years is incredible, and those immense efforts have positioned us well to continuing making positive change for those experiencing homelessness,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We thank them for that work, and welcome their continued partnership as this reorganization allows us to better align our strategic work to invest in programs that bring good health, good jobs and good homes to our communities."

“The needs of people experiencing homelessness in our community are changing every day,” said Ethan Hemming, President and CEO of Warren Village, Inc., who co-led the task force assigned with developing a recommendation for a future commission structure and purpose. “We believe that the commission remains a vital voice for those experiencing homelessness in Denver. Through this restructuring, we will focus our membership and incorporate new voices onto the commission to ensure our work is reflective of the needs of our community.”

  • The proposal adopted by the existing commission brings the new structure in line with other city advisory committees and commissions.
  • Among the items under consideration are a revised commission structure with a proposed makeup of:
    • At least a quarter membership from people with lived experiences (current/formerly homeless persons, advocacy groups)
    • At least a quarter of the membership from homeless services and housing providers
      Representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, regional entities, and interfaith groups
    • Non-voting representatives from city government and those with subject matter expertise
  • Appointments proposed via applications submitted to and selected by the Mayor
  • Staggered membership terms (half of appointees start on a 2-year term; half start on a 3-year term)
  • The proposal strongly recommends a commitment to diversity and inclusion on the new commission, and representation of the wide variety of communities served
  • The proposed structure also includes four yet-to-be-identified subcommittees who will meet monthly and encourage involvement and input from a variety of voices from the larger community
  • And ad-hoc work groups to tackle more complex or urgent topics, and report findings and recommendations to the full commission for consideration and development of recommendations to the city

Under the proposal, the new commission will make recommendations directly to the Mayor’s Office of HOPE regarding services and programs for those experiencing homelessness. The commission will work alongside the Mayor’s Housing Advisory Committee and other city commissions whose work also impacts those experiencing homelessness.

Lindi Sinton, Vice President of Operations for Volunteers of America and a longstanding member of the Commission added, “For more than a decade, my partners on the Commission have advocated tirelessly for programs and initiatives that best serve people experiencing homelessness in Denver. Thanks to community collaboration and advocacy, Denver now invests more than ever before in housing, job training and health services for people who are without homes and those who are at-risk of losing their housing. Denver’s Road Home can be proud of their past accomplishments and we are excited to move these efforts forward with a new focus and structure.”

Will Connelly, Executive Director of the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative, added, “Denver is a key partner in our regional effort to assist those who are experiencing homelessness. We’re excited to work alongside the city and the new commission to implement region-wide initiatives that improve the lives of those in Denver and across the seven-county region who are without homes.”

The former commission members will now begin working to refine the new structure and vision, and implement next steps for the formation of the new commission.

Re-imagining the commission is one of 30-short term action items to be completed in the next six months by the Office of HOPE. Other items to be completed are included in the office’s 30 item short-term action plan.