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New thread for homelessness, since it's a separate discussion. Many suggestions from council, including more sheltering and services, solutions for ppl living in their cars, etc.
A restatement, but Young wants to look at encampments. There was a suggestion to step up sweeps last year, but it was widely panned and abandoned. boulderbeat.news/2019/03/01/cit…
Kurt Firnhaber, director of housing and human services, going over some of the history of Boulder switching from BoHo as shelter provider to a county coordinated entry system.
The new goal of the coordinated system: House the unhoused. Why? Bc it works. It's the best practice. And it saves $$ over the long-term.
Sorry I'm not tweeting more; I've just heard (and tweeted) all this fairly recently, so I find it a little tedious. Here's my story from the last council meeting: boulderbeat.news/2020/01/11/bou…
Firnhaber "not excited" about the idea of a working group. We already have a pretty efficient system in place that can handle new ideas, he says.
And, from a resource and policy standpoint, we're working on getting ppl into housing. Things "that take away from that, we try to stay away from."
"We've all seen the success of ppl we've got into housing," Firnhaber says. "What the community sees is camp sites that have probably (increased) in recent months."
Firnhaber: We need to figure out how to do better outreach to where homeless are living. And we need to find better ways to entice ppl to get into services.
There's "different success" for ppl who have become homeless in our community and those who are traveling through. The latter group is much harder to get into services, Firnhaber says.
Friend: I would be looking to build on what we've done in the past, not undermine or be ungrateful for the strides we've made.

I want to give you more tools. Would it be helpful to have a place you can safely camp, which is not the 9th Street bridge?
The camping ban is something that council needs to look at. "It's not to undermine, it's to add tools."
Weaver also going over the history of how coordinated entry came to be. I thought we were in a hurry here!
It also feels a little lecture-y and, dare I say it, mansplain-y.
Ah, but there's a reason for that: "Some of these ideas have been tried," Weaver says. If we're going to try a working group, "the history should be presented."

Apparently the city couldn't find a service provider for a safe campground.
"It's a thorny issue," Weaver says. "I don't necessarily disagree with convening a working group."
Joseph: I have worked in displaced ppl's camps (Haiti and Central African Republic). I know it's very, very hard. If we do this, we would have to put a lot of resources into it to make sure ppl are safe.
Joseph: "Sometimes we can't look to the past. What happened in 2013 was 2013; now we are in 2020. We have Dif opportunities to do something great, and we have to do that."
The past can teach lessons, but we can't use it as a way not to move forward, she says.
Wallach man-splaining Weaver's lecture to Joseph.

BUT, to Weaver: Since it's been 7 yrs since you visited this, maybe the landscape has changed? Maybe there is a service provider who will step up.
Weaver: I did not mean we should not try. Boulder Shelter and Bridge House did not have the bandwidth and it's not part of their mission. Perhaps someone else can be found.
Q for my followers: Didn't churches also used to allow ppl to camp on their property b4 the city shut it down? Or am I mis-remembering?
Young, referencing a resident email: What's being done specifically for LGBTQ and women, who are often not safe in mixed-gender shelters, and/or don't feel safe bc of past predation by men?

(There is no women's shelter in Boulder)
Firnhaber slowly answering this...
With many ums
"Just like we haven't solved homelessness, we haven't solved that either," he (finally) says. "We are aware of that."
Young referencing family homelessness, another EFAA request. EFAA wants a study session on family homelessness.

Again, disclosure: EFAA pays me.
Firnhaber explaining this. We literally *just* went over this at the recent council meeting.
I find this a lot with controversial issues, that council and staff simply rehash things we already know rather than answering questions or getting to the tough discussion.
Firnhaber: The programs we have to prevent families from becoming homeless, that's where we're trying to get eventually on homelessness as a whole.
Firnhaber: We're aware of places sending their homeless to Boulder, from Denver or CO Springs.
So a regional approach is key, he says. Would like to work more closely with Broomfield, specifically.
Brockett: Let us know if we can help, by reaching out to other elected officials.
"Our system of services has evolved enormously, but looking at Dif options to support ppl who aren't able to work well with current services is a good idea," he says.
To Weaver's points about finding a service provider: "That's a two-way street." Council first has to say, this is something we want and *then* start looking for a partner.
Friend: Going back to the campground issue, yes, we need to make sure they're safe. And, ppl are not safe right now sleeping outside.
"I don't want that to be a stop."
Swetlik: "This may not be something we solve in the next 10 yrs. We may have to keep grinding at this." I want city staff to know we understand how big this is, but that doesn't mean we don't keep working.
Wallach: "I think staff is doing excellent work. I don't have an objection to a working group, but I think it would be more effective to let staff flush out issues that were raised."
I think his suggestion is to let staff keep working, analyzing these solutions and a working group.

Staff has already said they're against more services AND a working group, so...?
Brockett: I want to talk about keeping severe weather shelter open. Wants a decision at Tuesday night's meeting.
If council OKs, that could be worked into plan for new TBD winter shelter location.
Young: What I don't want to see happen is to put together a working group and it derails what we're doing now.
How do we use current system to look at some of these solutions?
Apparently there was a 2015 effort to ID where a tiny home village could go. Doesn't say what the options were; wants to revisit that.
Coincidentally, I wrote a story about tiny homes and where they're not allowed (hint: mostly everywhere) in Boulder. boulderbeat.news/2020/01/17/bou…
Young to Friend: Would you be OK with this approach?
Friend: If the system is an adequate way to handle these suggestions, why isn't stuff coming up through it already?
Firnhaber: New things are coming up.
"Some of these things we've already looked at, some we haven't," Firnhaber says.
Friend: Nobody is taking this broad, blue-sky thinking, it seems. Maybe I have that wrong, but the community is bringing us ideas that don't seem like get attention from staff or council.
Firnhaber: In city of Boulder, we have 1.5 FTE that work on homelessness.

Compared to how many planning staff, climate staff, open space staff (that's ~100) etc. That's where you can really see the city's priorities. That and budget.
Moderator restates Friend's q for Firnhaber: Can the current mechanism handle new ideas?
Firnhaber: We're not having conversations about lifting the camping ban.
Yates: Not in favor of a working group for homelessness. If we have a system in place for your team to receive new ideas, my preference would be to do that.
Yates to Firnhaber: "It sounds like you're open to new ideas. You need to let us know what process works best for you to receive those ideas."
Swetlik making my point! 1.5 FTE working for ppl who have no homes; 60 ppl (in planning dept) working for ppl with money to build things.

"It just seems a bit out of whack to me."
Brockett likes that point.
"I'm sympathetic to working within the current system," Brockett says. But if we send you these ideas, we don't want to hear all the reasons not to do them. I want to hear what it would take to do them and the pros and cons of each.
Pros and cons! Council voted down the idea of having staff do pros and cons in memos just last night....
Nagle speaks! She's more aligned with Young, Yates, Wallach. "As we continue to talk about the camping ban... " camping is hindering the process or hurting ... "the whole idea is that we're not hurting any more than it already is."
I *think* she's arguing that camping is keeping ppl from moving into housing...?

Firnhaber: There's a greater risk of death when ppl outside. So we want to move ppl into housing.
AND we want to take care of basic needs. But we don't want to take an approach where... we want to incentivize ppl that get into housing, Firnhaber says.
Firnhaber: "I think if we allow camping throughout the community, it would be possibly harder to get ppl into housing."
Nagle: I'd like to let staff continue working. They're the experts on this.

Firnhaber: I think the challenge is that some ppl don't want to get involved in services. We still want to make sure they're safe.
I'm getting a little lost as the moderator tries to sum up where we are. Here's my take: Split on council is: let staff and current system take on new solutions vs. put together a group to vet those solutions.
Friend: None of us have been homeless. There are more ideas that we haven't brought up. I don't want to limit this to just what we've thought of.
There is a 3Q council update on homeless strategy. Staff can come back with ideas they are already exploring/could explore and report back at that check-in.
Swetlik: I'm looking for pilot programs before the next sheltering season, from 2-3 things we suggested or otherwise.

Friend: Starting this in 3Q sounds late if we're adding this to 2020 work plan.
Brautigam: We cannot implement a pilot in 2020. We can't do it. We need to study this issue, bring it back to you, the community needs to weigh in.
Even something like safe parking: we need to ID location, Brautigam says, check with neighbors to make sure that's OK (yeah, like it ever will be). It can't happen by October.
We can come back with a full report of the things you're talking about in October and talk about which ones you want to do and how to go about it, she says.
Swetlik: This is why I bring up resource allocation. It sounds like we're just not set up as a community to deal with ppl.
Brautigam: I either disagree or totally agree with that. Human services are typically a function of the county. Our city has stepped up and put $6M into human services. Other cities put that into transportation, etc. We are doing way more than colleagues of equal size.
We can find more $$, she says, but we also have to provide basic services. "At the end of the day, the budget council adopts is the most important planning document."
Brockett: If we look at solutions, let's not just say pros and cons, but WHO it works for and who it doesn't. Where are ppl falling through the cracks?
Yates wants to look at Boulder's homeless outreach team. Ours is two police officers; other cities have mental health providers, social services, etc.
Pretty sure we're running behind schedule. Swetlik has to be gone at 2 p.m. and we still have to prioritize new work plan items.
We'll likely be here past 2; it's scheduled to 4 but council wanted to wrap "important" stuff by 2.
Weaver suggests an hour-long study session to "collect all the ideas" we want to go into the hopper for homelessness. Let's formalize that list. In the interim, let's reach out to the communities we're concerned with.
Moderator Bergman: Would this be in or before the 3Q update?
Weaver: Well before.
Brautigam: We won't be able to do it until April. I feel that's soon enough.
Weaver: It's not
Brautigam: April 14 is the next available study session.
Friend: What about the boards?
OK, April study session is agreed to by most of council.
Firnhaber: While we have 1 person with 'homeless' in their job title, there's a lot of dept that work with the homeless.
To counter the earlier narrative that Boulder doesn't dedicate many staff to that issue.
Young: We have a camping ban and yet we have encampments. This is an ongoing convo with this particular neighborhood, but we've gotten other emails from other neighborhoods asking what can be done.
"I would like to understand better what is being done and how can the concerns of folks we've heard from... how can those be addressed."

First neighborhood she's referencing is Steelyards.
On 30th. "People in the neighborhood don't feel safe at night," Young says. "Instead of walking over to one another's homes are asking for rides bc they don't feel safe walking by the encampment, ... not riding bikes on the path."
"It has an effect on the community that affects other goals," Young says.
Firnhaber: Other communities are noticing the community or residents that are camping that it will be cleaned up and taken down by a certain time and providing as much support and outreach as possible to those individuals.
and "making every effort possible" to get them engaged in services, Firnhaber says.
Police chief Weinheimer: Our enforcement of camping ban is through issuing tickets, not making physical arrests. If and when we reach the point we decide we have to remove a campsite, the camping ban is what we use.
"Unless they go willingly, we're going to have to use some level of force that we've been reluctant to use for such a low-level violation."
Weinheimer: Focus for HOT team is 9th and Boulder, 30th and Mapleton. Ppl at those encampments have serious addiction issues and mental health issues.
"From a police perspective, it's a difficult situation. There may come a time when, due to public health, we will have to clean out those campsites. The approach we will take will be a long one."
We do "rotating campsite cleanups" for abandoned sites, with a contractor, Weinheimer says. But it's only unoccupied camps.
Brautigam: I feel as a staff we have not been confident that council would support the removal of encampments. It would be super helpful to hear your views on that.
Wallach: It's obis a very complex and difficult situation. I appreciate your strategies are oriented toward minimum use of force and coercion. I know I am hearing quite a bit from the community from ppl who are feeling uncomfortable or threatened.
Uncomfortable and threatened are two v Dif things...
Wallach: We have to be sensitive, but I don't want to be "lost in the wash" the concerns of ppl who live here. "They are entitled to be safe as well."

First responsibility is to make public spaces safe for all.
Wallach: "This council member would be very reluctantly supportive of doing things that are necessary to keep ppl safe."
Weaver: "It's not a sweep overnight. You're not arresting ppl and throwing their stuff in the trash." Take a week, be there every day. "I think that alone will prob clear out part of the campsite. ... It's much more humane."
"I won't speak to feelings ppl of threat. There have been ppl who have been attacked by unsheltered ppl, but those tend to be other unsheltered ppl," Weaver says.
Weaver: Can we fence that 9th street area off?
Weinheimer: It's in a floodway; I don't think so.
So Weaver's answer to Brautigam: Yes, if it looks the way Firnhaber described.
Brautigam: Absolutely, we would only do it the way (he) described. That's the most humane.
Young q: What's the intersection between opening up SWS all winter and helping folks that are in these encampments?
Firnhaber (taking a long time to answer): Having shelter open more nights would be "more in line" with enforcement of the camping ban "knowing there would be a place for ppl to stay."
However, the city of Boulder "has a reputation for taking care of the homeless," which we should be proud of. What we've seen in the past is that having more shelter available increased no. of homeless, Firnhaber says.
Firnhaber: What we don't know is if it was bc of the shelter being open every night or bc the capacity kept growing and they did everything they could not to turn ppl away.
"I think we're doing a better job of communicating" with the homeless about our services and capacity, Firnhaber says.
Swetlik agrees with Weaver, RE: cleaning up encampments.
Can NOT believe this, but Swetlik is forgoing prioritizing projects for 2020 and is going to let the rest of council decide that.
Absolutely stunning, since he had only a couple priorities and was the ONLY one advocating for some of them.
Kind of floored by that. People voted for Swetlik, presumably based on his priorities. Now he's just leaving it up to everyone else.
Carr: Not concerned about the Supreme Court (non) ruling on camping bans.

"Interpretation" in that case has never been followed by another court and I doubt the 10th Circuit will, he says.
The SC let a 9th Circuit ruling stand that camping bans were cruel and unusual punishment. Essentially, putting ppl at risk of death for violating a simple rule (don't use a blanket or shelter to sleep outside)
That was in response to Friend's concern over the camping ban.

Brockett saying he will support cleaning encampments but only if we have severe weather shelter open every night of the winter.
Yates also OK with cleaning up encampments.
It's a good idea, he says, bc it signals to community we're taking their concerns seriously while trying to help the homeless.
Brockett is leaving, too! He is ill.
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