Today, Denver’s Road Home released the results from an independent assessment of the city’s shelter system. The National Alliance to End Homelessness was contracted by the City & County of Denver through Denver’s Road Home, to assess the quality and capacity of Denver's homeless shelter system, to review shelter practices in other communities, and to make recommendations for improving Denver's shelter programs.
As part of his commitment to Denver’s Road Home and efforts to enhance services provided to our community, Mayor Michael B. Hancock requested a full assessment of Denver’s shelter network last December. Denver’s Road Home has delivered the assessment results, which include 17 recommendations, to members of the Mayor’s Homeless Commission, and service providers included in the site visits.
“We will examine the results of the assessment in conjunction with shelter providers and decide together on a strategy for how we can best select and implement recommendations from the Alliance,” said Denver’s Road Home Executive Director Bennie Milliner. “Our shelters provide a great service for our homeless community, and they will be an integral part of our decision making moving forward.”
The National Alliance’s recommendations include:
Back Door Recommendations:
1. Develop a robust rapid re-housing capacity focused on housing search assistance, family reunification, and providing small amounts of financial assistance.
2. Assign responsibility for the city’s overall shelter policy and design to a staff person at Denver’s Road Home.
3. Develop system-wide performance measures to track the overall effectiveness of Denver's shelter system.
4. Transition to an open HMIS to allow data sharing between providers.
5. Consolidate the planning for the Continuum of Care (CoC) with the planning and oversight of emergency shelter and other emergency services.
6. Create a mechanism to get regular feedback from people experiencing homelessness about the shelter system, including surveys and focus groups.
Front Door Recommendations:
7. Develop a coordinated intake system so that people experiencing homelessness can contact one entity to be assigned to a shelter bed or other assistance.
8. Develop a shelter diversion program that is coordinated with the intake system.
Shelter System Recommendations:
9. Begin planning a redesign of the emergency shelter system, with an eye toward using some of the existing transitional housing capacity as a 24-hour shelter system, and using existing emergency shelter beds, if they continue to be needed, as overflow shelter.
10. Develop system-wide standards for safety, cleanliness, resident rights, data, outcomes, and staff training.
11. Conduct regular inspections.
12. Encourage shelters to specialize.
13. Improve coordination between detoxification services, shelter, and outreach, and create a two-level substance abuse detoxification system with sobering center and sub-acute detoxification facility.
14. Delay investing in new employment programs, day centers, outreach, and life skills or case management activities and seek opportunities to shift current capacity to rapid re-housing activities.
15. Partner with the Regional Transportation District.
16. Create a streamlined method of conducting tuberculosis tests.
17. Create shelter capacity for intoxicated youth.
The full assessment with recommendations is available on the Denver’s Road Home website at http://www.denversroadhome.org/files/Denver%20Shelter%20Assessment_2012.pdf.