Boulder Homeless Shelter making major changes to combat homelessness

BOULDER, Colo. -- Boulder is busy dealing with the homeless in their community. Tuesday night, the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless announced major changes ahead. They want to help people stay off the streets for good and keep their neighborhoods safe.

A new strategy was approved in June, but at the city council meeting, some of the changes were explained in detail including management no longer requiring clients to be sober to stay at the shelter.

Management will now allow clients to stay during the day and possibly year-round.

With 160 beds at the shelter, the idea is to make every one of them a program bed; meaning it is used by someone who will enroll in a housing, rehab or mental health program of some kind.

The City of Boulder Division of Housing is focusing on clients in high-need and those that have ties to the community as part of the process to transition some to permanent housing through a voucher program.

People will no longer be able to drop by the shelter, as there will be a new screening process most likely at a different location, called a navigation center. It’s possible that location will take in low-need clients while the high-need will go to the shelter.

At Tuesday’s meeting, plenty of people had questions. 

Michelle Stephens is a Boulder resident concerned that the lack of sobriety will place certain individuals on public transportation in uncomfortably close range to kids.

“The shelter is going to provide shelter for higher need individuals with increased hours of service without a need to be clean and sober, so how are they going to get there? I don’t think The Skip is a good option,” said Stephens.'

Patricia DeAngelis Ratner, a Boulder resident, also had strong words at the podium for the city council members.

“You haven’t seen the meth users with rotten teeth around the property. You haven’t seen the needles on the lawns around the property. The alcohol is the least of your problems.”

Also talked about tonight, the increase in beds during severe weather. 

During public comment, and amongst city council members, the need for an ordinance to prevent sexually violent predators on parole from living at the shelter or certain locations.

Lastly, a voucher program will help provide more than 30 new supplemented housing opportunities a year, outside of the shelter, to those that qualify.

A good neighbor meeting for residents to provide input is scheduled for October 2.

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