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New topic, new thread: Homeless strategy!

This packet is a slight improvement over last year, but damn do they make it hard to get any concrete numbers or info from it.
Some data.
Oct. 2017-Nov. 2019: 754 exits from homelessness
366 People have been housed
270 People have been reunited with family, friends, or support systems
118 People have been referred to treatment services or other long-term programs (such as Ready to Work)
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless seeing decreased demand "as people exit homelessness through increased city and HSBC housing resources"

15 ppl housed with vouchers represented 14,354 shelter nights
45% decrease in ppl at the shelter for 300+ nights
BUT the current location for severe weather sheltering and Path to Home navigation is closing at the end of the season (May). No plan to replace the navigation beds; just the SWS ones. So a loss of ~60(?)
Boulder Shelter will absorb those services. Per packet, Shelter should have “reasonable year-round capacity for average demand,” but maybe not in October and November

SWS will serve as overflow “when open” in winter
Also per packet: Bc of recent increase in use of bede, three may be more demand "than will be provided under consolidation" — at least until more high-utilizers are housed.
Beds* above, not bede
Kurt Firnhaber going over 48 deaths of unhoused persons in 2019:
19 of those persons were actually housed at the time.
5 in Longmont
1 outside BoCo
Out of 23 individuals who died while homeless in BoCo, 56% had not utilized coordinated entry for screening and had spent 0 days at winter sheltering. 6 deaths in the summer; 7 deaths in the winter.
6 of those 7, shelter was open during time of death
The 1 death when SWS wasn't open, it was 71 degrees and 43 at night
44% (10 ppl who died) DID go through screening; 7 went to the Boulder Shelter; 3 to navigation.

Two deaths during winter season and shelter was open 15 days prior to death (but idk about day of death?)
Cause of death, of those 23 unhoused ppl:
3 with pneumonia (2 during summer; 1 with 44 continuous nights of winter shelter but they didn't access)
1 due to exposure of hypothermia. Did not go to sheltering, even though it was open, Firnhaber says
Of the 19 ppl who were housed at the time of death: no coroner's report for 9 of them.
Of the other 10:
2 had lived in housing for 2+ years
One was diagnosed with cancer going through the screening and was "fast-tracked" into permanent housing
"Hopefully they died with a little more dignity as a result of those efforts, as opposed to dying on the streets."
Brockett: Any theories on why it was so much higher than usual? Previous years, there were also ppl who died while housed.

Firnhaber: We don't have any theories backed up by data, so I wouldn't be comfortable opining.
Wallach: So no exposure-related deaths when winter sheltering was closed?
Firnhaber: Correct. They were during the summer. And the winter pneumonia death was during high temperatures.
Firnhaber: I asked Bill Sweeney (works for Bridge House, who has complied the list for years) why he thought there was an increase. He was baffled; we are baffled.
What I found nationally: Unhoused deaths are on the rise across the U.S. Rising drug use was a leading theory.
In L.A., which has seen steady increases in deaths since 2013, heart disease was actually the leading cause. Overdoses were second.
Another theory: There are just so many more homeless ppl now, bc of the ongoing housing shortage and affordability crisis.
Firnhaber going over some history of homelessness in the U.S.: Closure of mental facilities in the 80s was a big factor, followed by huge reductions in funding for affordable housing.

$83B HUD budget in 1978
$18B 5 yrs later, in 1983
"You can imagine the impact that would have," Firnhaber said. A lot of the loss was to Section 8 vouchers.

2017 HUD budget: $43B
Tax credits for homeowner in 2017: $144B
More factors in the unhoused crisis:
Changes in disability eligibility
The AIDS crisis
Great Recession
Income inequality
More high-end rentals being built than subsidized ones
"City that have better weather and better services have greater homeless challenges," Firnhaber says. "Cities have to take more responsibility for both housing and homelessness."
Vicki Ebner, Homeless Initiatives Manager, taking over. Homelessness per population is going down, but our numbers of unhoused are going up — as is the rest of the population, she says.
Point-in-time-count is not a good measure of how many ppl are homeless, Ebner says, but it's a good benchmark.
"We have an increase that is lower than some of our" neighbors: FoCo: 43% increase; Greater Denver (including Boulder) is 8%; Denver city and county: 14%
BoCo up 5.2%, I think the slide says.
Comparing ourselves to other college towns with similar affordability challenges, homeless populations changes are all over the place, from Eugene, Ore. 31% increase to Portland, Ore. nearly 4% decrease.
Yates asks what lessons we can take.
Ebner says some trends just align with general migration data: Ppl move to attractive places. That includes unhoused ppl, too.
Boulder's housing-first policy is just that: We provide housing b4 we focus on addition or employment or other issues. That's the best standard across the country.
And it's cheaper: Roughly $40K/yr for an unhoused person (cops, emergency room visits, courts, etc.)
And $20K/yr per person who is in supportive housing.
Clarification from Ebner on how residency is determined (housing is only available to someone in BoCo 6 mos. or longer): That's self-reported, Ebner says. We don't require documentation.
From winter sheltering in 2019-2020 (so far) about half of ppl have been in BoCo less than one month

From Path to Home navigation in 2019, 68% in BoCo for less than 6 mos.
That's bc ppl who have been unhoused in BoCo for a long time have largely accessed housing, Ebner says.
Ebner going over various paths out of homelessness through Boulder's services.
One possibility for winter sheltering location, once 30th Street facility closes at end of this season, is the Y on Mapleton/30th.
Firnhaber: "Most ppl decline in a shelter environment. So we're trying to reduce the number of time they're in a shelter."
Also seems to explain why many unhoused folks *don't* access services and don't want to go to a shelter...
Swetlik: "What happens to ppl who fail out of the system?" (Banned due to disruptive behavior, etc.)
Firnhaber: "Both of our shelters have rules. It's kind of like having a sleepover every night for 130 of your best friends."

Audible and visible displeasure from the audience at that remark.
Firnhaber: "There are individuals who don't engage" with our shelters "and who don't do well."

Working with court system, city has been able to get ppl directly into housing so they don't go into the shelter.
Swetlik: So there's a gap if ppl aren't allowed at shelters?
Firnhaber: They do have severe weather sheltering.
Ebner: Even someone given a long-term denial, that's not a forever situation. At the end of the year, they have the ability to discuss with shelter staff or appeal.
Long-term denials: 24 of 1,290 ppl served last fiscal year, Ebner says. "We do not give up on them." We look at other avenues.
Swetlik: What's data on resolution? How many ppl get back in?
Firnhaber: We don't have that data tonight. But after last night's council meeting, we had mediation team make themselves more available at shelters.
Joseph: Are disputes or mediation confidential?
Firnhaber: It is confidential. There's also a phone number or email they can use to contact our mediation team.
Joseph: What is the followup process?
Firnhaber: They reach out to whichever shelter is involved, tell them there's someone who wants a mediation. Both parties agree to; idk of any cases where a shelter hasn't agreed to mediation.
Some data on housing vouchers:
BHP last week got 39 more that aren't on this list
Those vouchers are for permanently supportive housing, btw. PSH = housing paired with services to make sure ppl can stay in the housing.
Boulder does have a law to prevent landlords from not accepting vouchers but, Firnhaber says, "It's a challenge" to find units. The team "is always looking."
Firnhaber talking consolidation of navigation (50 beds) into Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. On average, 38 of those beds are being used.
Here's a little chart showing some capacity data:
Firnhaber: Ppl ask if you're going to replace those 50 beds. "The answer is no. We're not going to create any more shelter beds. We're going to create apartment beds."
We're going to devote "2 minutes" to family homelessness, Firnhaber says. Nonprofits say this is a growing demographic, and a largely invisible one.
$579,000 in 2019 for family homelessness (including funding for Attention Homes, Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), Mother House, and Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN)
2017, Keep Families Housed launched
Pays for rent up to three times a year; payments 2 and 3 tied to certain requirements (getting kids to doctors, etc.)

Through Oct 2019: 364 families received rental assistance
Over $318,000 (580 distinct payments)
Yates: I'd like us to talk about expanding this program in 2021 budget. Wants to hear success stories from EFAA.

Disclosure: EFAA pays me to consult for them.
Severe Weather Sheltering
169 total nights 2018-2019
846 ppl used SWS for at least one night; 85% came through CE
Average age: 43
Average number of nights: 10 (median: 3.5)
Top 20 clients averaged 86 nights
Most use: 117 nights by one person
63 nights SWS over capacity
25 nights 30th Street over capacity
3 nights over system capacity
2019-2020 (so far) 48% of SWS ppl have been in BoCo less than one month; 68% less than 6 mos.
That's directly from city council notes
I guess I already shared that little chart with those numbers... My bad
Firnhaber: BOHO used to provide winter sheltering. They had a Dif approach, to provide enough beds so that no one was ever turned away. Started at ~60 ppl per night; ended with 225.
Firnhaber: What we surmise is that as BOHO grew capacity, number of homeless ppl in the community also grew, resulting in more turnaways from Boulder Shelter.
"Turnaways are minimal," Firnhaber says. "But the fire chief has also been pretty clear to us that we won't go over capacity."
Yates: If we hit capacity, do we provide transportation to alternative sites?
Ebner: At SWS, if we hit capacity, then we use navigation beds. If that facility looks like they're hitting capacity, they'll work with Shelter to determine who they can take.
Ebner: Bridge House uses a van to take people over. That started this year. That's why we haven't had nights (this year) where we hit capacity of the system.
Firnhaber: Providers have also been better at communicating with unhoused folks that there are limited beds in the community and that they should plan for that before the winter season begins.
Boulder's challenges, per staff:
Folks who don't engage with the system
Not enough housing supply
Capacity challenges in other services (mental health, etc.)
Balancing services (who gets what?)
Firnhaber: What services do we give to those who have been part of our community vs. what services we provide to those who are new?
Heidi Grove, from Homeless Solutions for Boulder County, speaking. Explaining the organization, which was put together a couple years ago to make solutions to homelessness a regional issue
That last tweet was really poorly worded. I'm getting so sleepy: First meeting in a couple weeks. I'm out of practice!
Good q from Swetlik: Any persons with actual unhoused experience in this group?
Yes, Grove says: On the management board. We're looking at ways to involve more folks with lived experience.
That's all from staff.
Wallach, praising staff's work: This is data-driven, effectual. I think you can all be proud of yourselves.

Head-shaking in the audience at that.
Boulder's senior center at 9th and Arapahoe has been "rebranded" as the Aging Well center.

That's where coordinated entry is moving.
Brockett: I like the focus on housing. But I remain concerned about capacity after 30th Street goes away.
"It looks like demand will not quite fit in the space. It seems reasonably likely that by the time 30th Street closes, we won't quite have the same amount of space. What's our plan?"
Firnhaber: Um, so, um. I'm more optimistic than you are about what the capacity will be at the shelter. I'm more concerned about Severe Weather Shelter than the 50 beds of navigation. I think we're on track with where we want to be.
RE: SWS, Firnhaber says, We've been looking for a relatively inexpensive or free space. Even if we're not paying, "it's difficult to site that kind of space in Boulder."
Brockett, such a diplomat: I appreciate your optimism. But let's say it doesn't go quite as well as you think. What's our plan then?
Firnhaber: Our shelter capacity has always been relative to the space we have. ... We've been telling homeless folks who are from outside the community what our shelter capacity is.
"Many ppl can go various Dif places seeking services. It's important and responsible of us to indicate to ppl what services we have and what services we don't."
Firnahber: The approach of trying to provide to everyone didn't work, if you look at BoHo.
Brockett: I don't think we're trying to provide for everyone. But we're losing capacity. We can't quite fit demand into space. I need a plan.
Yates: Could we take ppl to Longmont if we were a little short and they had a little extra room?
Ebner: It's too early to say if that's an option for us; they're going through changes as well.
Ebner: There are reasons to back up Kurt's optimism.
Ebner: Boulder Shelter averaging 128 ppl per night; Path to Home averages 37 a night. That put us 5 ppl short, per average, in December. We're working on that.
Ebner: Bringing on a more robust diversion services should help us address our high-utilizers of Path to Home. We'll be doing quicker intervention. Some ppl who would have gone to navigation will be going to diversion.
Brockett: That's all very encouraging. I think it would be helpful to have a little bit of a Plan B in case there is a capacity question.
Young: Are the increased vouchers helping free up shelter beds?
Firnhaber: Yes
Swetlik: What happens to ppl who get into housing and then fall out bc of addiction, mental health, etc.?
Firnhaber: I don't have those numbers, but there are a % of ppl who aren't successful in housing.
Firnhaber: They have a case manager. The lease is an agreement between that individual and the landlord. They have to meet the requirements like anyone else.
That number not in the packet, nor have I ever heard one: How many ppl STAY in housing vs. fall out of housing?
Swetlik: We don't have any services for ppl living in their cars, currently?
Firnhaber: We do. They go to coordinated entry, park their cars and use services provided to anyone else.
Young: But if they don't want to go to shelter and instead want to live in their cars, can they do so there?
Firnhaber: I don't think so.
Swetlik: So maybe a safe parking system for them would be a good idea.
Swetlik: It seems like all economic, government and climate indicators are that the number of homeless ppl across the country are only going to increase.
"I think it's time that as a city, we really have the tough q of how much are we going to pay to make sure ppl aren't going to be living on the streets anymore?"
"This is the council that needs to say it's no longer an option for ppl to be living on the streets, and whatever funding we need to divert ... it hurts those ppl, ppl who are housed, businesses, everyone down the list."
We need "a more comprehensive suite of solutions" for homelessness, he says.
Brockett proposing all-winter sheltering, Oct to May
Rather than temperature-based threshold: 32 degrees or 38 with snow or rain. "That ends up being the large majority of nights," he says. "Taking it to 100% of the nights is a small change, small bit of funding. But it means there's always a safe place."
"It seems the sort of humane thing to do to allow folks a warm cot to sleep on."
Yates: Can we have this discussion at the retreat?
Brockett: I don't think this has a huge workplace component. But a larger discussion, yes, makes sense at the retreat.
All we need is info on cost for this season and the next, Brockett says.
Both Friend and Swetlik say this is one of their priorities for the 2020 work plan.
Friend: We should keep shelter open all season. Also references court decisions on camping bans.
Friend: Chris Nelson said Attention Homes is already at capacity. So we also don't have enough capacity for some of our populations.
We need to talk about ppl who can't access services right now bc they have pets, or are married, or are service resistant, Friend says. "I'm reluctant to criminalize the process of sleeping or existing as a human. There's so much we have to talk about."
Arguing that if we want to keep shelter open all winter long, we might not want to delay that this season. How quickly can we move on these solutions, while having community engagement?
Young: When this came up in the past, it wasn't a question of funding. It was the impact on demand.
Young was one who voted against expanding sheltering last year.
She wants to "understand" staff's claim that communities with more services draw more homeless people in. "I just want to make sure we're not working against ourselves where we end up providing or giving ppl the choice that is less healthy for them than focusing on housing."
Head shaking in the audience at that, including from some providers.
Brockett: "There are currently ppl who have no other option. If you've been here 21 days, there's not another path for you at this point."

We can put "guardrails" on it, but we need a safety net.
Joseph: There is a disconnect between the two presentations offered. We are really working really hard on meeting long-term goals as opposed to short-term. We are struggling with that. What can we do to take care of some of the short-term needs?
"We still have to take care of the immediate needs," Joseph says. "We have to bridge the gap."
Firnhaber: We have been focused on long-term goals. But short-term activities, some of them didn't exist 18 months ago. That really helps a lot of ppl with those short-term challenges. We're increasing that; we've added funding to it.
"I don't think we're done progressing on that."
Firnhaber: "I think what the data showed us is that ppl aren't dying bc they don't have severe weather shelter. They're dying bc they're camping in the streets.
Yates: My suggestion is to come to the retreat with questions not about changing this thing or this thing, but really talk about how those might fit into a workplan.
Then staff can say what will take XX amount of time, we don't recommend that, and here's why.
Swetlik: We have a great Vision Zero for transportation and making sure there's no death on our streets. How do we make a Vision Zero where ppl aren't sleeping on our streets?
Young: The work that's being done is incredible. Before, all we were focused on was putting a roof over someone's head temporarily. Now we have data. We have teams of ppl doing this work, we're focusing county-wide, etc.
Yates shouting out homeless outreach team of the Boulder police dept.
Brockett loops in the municipal court team

So that ends this... no decision or even straw poll on expanding severe weather sheltering tonight.
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