Homelessness is on the rise in Arvada and throughout Colorado. Recent data shows that families experiencing homelessness are increasing in number faster than any other group. In our community, homelessness is increasingly affecting families with children, the under-employed, veterans and individuals with mental health or substance-abuse issues. The City of Arvada is collaborating with various organizations and agencies in a variety of ways to help address this growing concern.
Arvada Police Proactive Measures
Over the past several years, the Arvada Police Department has applied significant additional resources to address homelessness. Most recently, the Police Department has developed a new response team: the Community, Outreach, Resource and Enforcement (CORE) team. This new team is dedicated to ensuring public safety and a high quality of life throughout the entire city. The CORE team will is presently focusing its efforts in the area south of W. 58th Avenue and east of Allison Street. They are working closely with all members of the community to develop an appropriate response to any issues that may arise. Officers have opened lines of communication with residents, visitors, business owners and the homeless population with the goal to find resource-based solutions. It is important to note that this team will also deploy strategic enforcement efforts when providing resources becomes ineffective. If individuals experiencing homelessness are breaking the law, our officers will take appropriate action just as they would with any other individual.
Recent court decisions on the issue of homelessness have prompted the City to review and revise many of its ordinances to ensure that the City is in compliance with the law. When determining what is or is not a crime, the City must focus on problematic behavior regardless of a person’s status as homeless or homed. As part of this effort, the City repealed its panhandling ordinance and replaced it with ordinances that focus instead on pedestrian safety. In addition, the City revised its trespassing ordinance to more clearly outline criminal behavior. These changes to the City’s criminal code have the effect of taking the focus off a person’s status, and puts the focus on a person’s conduct that may be unsafe or problematic.
As part of the City’s commitment to addressing homelessness, Arvada is participating in a regional program in partnership with Heading Home Jeffco. Several Jefferson County cities, including Arvada, have agreed to utilize service “navigators” to identify and connect those experiencing homelessness with available resources, services, and benefits. Arvada hired a Homeless Navigator in January of 2020. The Navigator works to identify our unsheltered neighbors and assists this vulnerable population by connecting them with food banks, social services benefits, day shelter resources and more permanent housing options, medical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment providers, and with other services.
The Navigator also works in City programs designed to help homeless individuals. In 2019, the Arvada City Attorney’s Office realized the use of traditional sentencing options in Municipal Court cases involving defendants experiencing homelessness was often ineffective. In response, the City Attorney’s Office created “One Small Step” (OSS) Court, an innovative problem-solving Court dedicated to improving public safety and helping defendants experiencing homelessness to take “one small step” toward living a more stable life.
OSS is designed to connect defendants experiencing homelessness with existing community resources. Arvada's Homeless Navigator and the Court’s Senior Probation Officer became integral parts of the OSS Court program in early 2020. OSS is built on collaboration: the Navigator assesses each defendant’s needs, the City Prosecutor crafts a plea bargain offer intended to protect the community and assist the defendant, and the Senior Probation Officer creates a compliance plan formulated to increase stability in the defendant’s life. The OSS team works with the Arvada Police Department’s “CORE” officers to protect public safety throughout the OSS process. Finally, the team relies on partnerships with local resource providers who provide direct services to OSS defendants.
Arvada’s Homeless Navigator, as well as Navigators in other Jeffco cities, work to promote awareness of homelessness, prevent homelessness, advocate on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, and connect homeless individuals with existing services and resources.
Other Regional Partnerships
A regional approach through partnerships with elected officials and other agencies and organizations have resulted in:
- Severe Weather Shelters have been established in Jefferson County through partnerships between local churches, non-profits, and community volunteers.
- Housing programs are being explored at a regional and local level.
- The partnership between the Arvada Housing Authority and BeyondHome provides housing assistance to homeless or at-risk of homelessness individuals and families in addition to case management services.
To view the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding homelessness in Arvada, visit arvada.org/faqs-homelessness-in-arvada.
Want to Help/Need Help?
- Telephone Numbers:
Non-emergency Police Dispatch: 720-898-6900
Arvada Housing Authority: 720-898-7494
- Street Address:
8101 Ralston Road, Arvada, CO 80002
- by City Manager