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.
The City of Arvada Homeless Navigation Program
The City of Arvada Homeless Navigation Program (AHNP) is committed to assisting individuals and families experiencing homelessness in locating permanent housing. Enrollment in the services provided by the AHNP is entirely voluntary and is limited to individuals and families that are homeless (as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and are seeking housing, regardless of other circumstances. The aim of the program is to locate and secure safe and stable housing for each client while accommodating their preferences and needs as much as possible. In order to achieve this goal, AHNP also partners with a variety of local organizations that supply other services such as medical, substance abuse, or mental health treatment; food, clothing, and hygiene items; and obtaining benefits and identifying documents. In working to achieve the stated goals of the Vibrant Community Neighborhoods initiative and the Homelessness Action Plan adopted by Heading Home Jeffco, AHNP accomplishes its mission for both the chronically and episodically homeless by providing outreach, housing navigation, and limited case management services.
Through outreach, AHNP seeks to find and engage individuals and families experiencing homelessness by meeting them where they are--whether on the streets, in camps, or other remote areas of the city. AHNP also partners with local service providers to meet clients at their places of business throughout the city. The aim of AHNP’s outreach is to build relationships with clients, assess their needs, and refer them either directly to AHNP’s housing services or to the program most appropriate to their needs.
Within the City, AHNP also collaborates with the Community, Outreach, Resource and Enforcement (CORE) team of the Arvada Police Department. This new team is dedicated to ensuring public safety and a high quality of life throughout the entire city. The CORE team 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.
In addition, the AHNP partners with the Arvada City Attorney’s office and Municipal Court in the One Small Step Program (OSS). The OSS is a specialized problem-solving Court designed to assist defendants who are experiencing homelessness. These defendants are referred to OSS by the CORE team. Once at Court, they work with the City Prosecutor and the Senior Probation Officer to craft a compliance plan formulated to increase stability in the defendant’s life. In addition, they meet with the AHNP Homeless Navigators to determine suitable housing options. By connecting homeless defendants with existing community resources, AHNP team members help these vulnerable defendants to take one small step toward living a more stable life.
Fundamentally, AHNP is a housing program. All services provided by AHNP are centered around connecting households experiencing homelessness to housing services, providing housing navigation services, and supporting newly housed households so as to minimize the risk of recurring homelessness. All partners and individuals seeking information on services unrelated to housing should be directed to the “City of Arvada Housing and Homelessness Program Referral Guide.”
The following clients, at current staffing and resource levels, are likely to be best served by AHNP:
The client is seeking housing-related services
The client is “literally homeless” as defined by HUD
The client is not part of a household with children
The client is not a veteran
Clients who do not meet the above criteria may be more appropriately referred to another organization for services.
For households enrolled in housing navigation services, AHNP provides limited case management services during the housing search process and for a limited time after housing has been secured. For each client, AHNP’s Housing Navigator drafts a case plan to outline the client’s goals for housing and works to connect them with other service providers that can support them. In the time between enrollment and the program and securing housing, the Housing Navigator will also assist the client with securing vital documents and addressing any other prominent barriers to housing. Once the client has been housed, the Housing Navigator will follow up with the client at regular intervals in order to provide additional stability if necessary.
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.
The Community Table, which provides basic food resources as well as connects clients to resources that enhance self-sufficiency.
Benefits in Action, which works with constituents to help them recognize the health-related benefits they qualify for, apply to those benefits, and utilize them as effectively as possible.
Stride Health Services, which provides basic health services, including treatment of acute, minor ailments or wounds.
RecoveryWorks, which offers respite to people experiencing homelessness discharged from the hospital, a safe and supportive place to recuperate.
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.
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?
- Homeless Navigator: Lisa Chavez (720) 898-7496
- Telephone Numbers:
Non-emergency Police Dispatch: 720-898-6900
Arvada Housing Authority: 720-898-7494
- Street Address:
8001 Ralston Road, Arvada, CO 80002
- by City Manager