Shay Castle Profile picture
Mar 2 35 tweets 5 min read
Judge Linda Cooke is here to give a quarterly update on the municipal court, including a super-quick run down on what muni court is and what they do.…
But mostly this update is about community court: The programs muni court runs for unhoused offenders that allow them to get rid of some tickets/charges in exchange for working toward ending homelessness.
So if participants do things like: get a Social Security card, go through coordinated entry, or applying for housing or benefits, they can get their case dropped.

This work is funded by a federal grant.
It's not for every offenses; mostly the ones that mostly impact the unhoused for doing the kinds of things that are legal in your house but illegal if you do them in public, like peeing, drinking, smoking, sleeping, etc.
Cooke: "The types of violations are very low level. We do not handle more serious violations such as drug violations, thefts. Those cases would not be handled in community court."
It's been quite successful: In 1 yr and 3 months, 169 folks were screened, 156 enrolled with a collective 470 court cases. 376 were dismissed or are pending dismissal.
They even have $$ for housing. Not much in the grand scheme of things ($150K) but you can house 7.5 people per year, with services, for that.
Court navigators go out into the community, where unhoused folks are, to find them and resolve their cases. They attend Feet Forward's weekly outreach at the bandshell downtown. (Disclosure: I volunteer with FF.)
Obviously this population is not a monolith, but many unhoused folks I know and have spoken with really respect and appreciate Judge Cooke and the court folks. They feel this program and the ppl who run it actually give a crap about them and want to help.
Community court has an advisory council of folks who have experienced / are experiencing homelessness.
Cooke: "What's really critical to engagement is meeting people where they're at rather than requiring them to come someplace they wouldn't spend much time."
Community court has resources for substance abuse and mental health. They also offer some housing help and case management.
Aspects of this program were modeled on Austin's. Cooke: That team has become like a homeless services organization that also has the ability to resolve court cases.
Cooke: 363 tasks were completed out of 400 assigned to participants in community court. That's greater than a 90% completion rate. Our completion for community service (prior to this program) or for other diversion programs are nowhere near 90%.
That's because we can help them complete those tasks the day-of, Cooke says.
Despite this success, some challenges still remain.
The system isn't really built to house human services data, so they can case manage clients. But they're working on that, Cooke says.
Another issue: Folks with certain crimes in their past (even if they weren't convicted, just charged) don't qualify, and it's "very arduous" to figure that out, Cooke says. It involves getting police reports and analyzing it case-by-case.
"We also lack a physical site" for coordinating case management with dif service providers, Cooke says. "That would be open to anybody experiencing homelessness."

"We hope to have that in the future."
Multiple service providers have lobbied for this, too.…
The city *is* working on a day shelter over the next ~2 yrs, which could be used for coordinated services as well.
Cooke sharing some personal success stories.
"Chris" (not his real name) had "many, many violations — over 50, for things like the camping ban and open container." He was placed into housing, "got sober, reconnected with his family" and is part of the advisory council.
"He now enjoys spending time with his grandkids," Cooke says.
"Martha" (again, not her real name) also got a voucher and moved into an apartment. She volunteers with Feet Forward and participates in the court's advisory council.
These are the kinds of things we can do with this program, Cooke says.
Thanks to COVID, Cooke says, a lot of these tasks we assign participants can be done online (applying for Medicaid, a Social Security card or benefits). We used to have to send people all over the county.
Getting housing takes longer, Cooke explains. Because you have to get a voucher and then find somewhere to take it (famously a struggle here and elsewhere).
Once they find a place, "we are there on moving day, helping them," Cooke says. "Our primary focus is on the various ways of getting people housed" — which you need a lot of paperwork for.
Yates: This is grant funded. What's our long-term funding plan?

Cooke: We plan on the funds through September 2023. After that "you may see us requesting funds for this in our budget." (The city funds the municipal court; council approves the budget.)
The grant was $400K for 2 years, so not a ton, relatively speaking.
Yates: We'll start working on the 2023 budget in the next few months. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Friend: As we're looking at day shelter, it looks like that's a location you can use as well. I hope you'll participate in the planning for that.

"Yes, absolutely," Cooke says.
Cooke: "We are meeting people where we're at. We're going out into the community to conduct court. Even though we want a physical location, we will never stop going out into the community."
This is about relationships, Cooke says. Our court navigators are out there; people know them. "Without that, I don't think you could accomplish that same level of completion."
OK that's it for this update, but I thought I'd throw in one slide about other stuff the court does. Actually, the majority of what they do.
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More from @shayshinecastle

Mar 2
Yes, I am still here. Next: When will council return to chambers for meetings? COVID transmission is still high but falling pretty quickly.…
Apparently April 5 at the very earliest for council, and May 3 for the public. As you'll see in that presentation.
That would be for regular and special meetings only; study sessions would stay virtual.

And even in-person meetings would be hybrid, with some council members, staff and public able to participate remotely.
Read 19 tweets
Mar 2
Next up: Some updates on the city's lobbying agenda for the state leg. No presentation, but I've got a few notes so you know what Boulder is advocating for.
First up: Support expansion of behavioral health
No specific legislation yet, but Boulder likely to support
whatever gets proposed. Recommendations from a task force report introduced to the state leg.

They are as follows:
- Address the residential behavioral health needs of Colorado’s Native American Tribes. ($5 to $10M)

- Meet the needs of children, youth, and families through residential care, community services, and school and pediatric behavioral health care integrations. ($110.5 to $141.5M)
Read 39 tweets
Mar 2
Next up: A quick review of plans for a new Fire Station No. 3
That's being relocated out of the floodplain (30th/Arap)…
It's quite pricey: Last I checked (fall 2021) the budget was $23.5M — $11M *over* budget, primarily due to the high cost of land to build on ($9M for 2751 and 2875 30th St
That $11M is coming from the CCS extension

The new Fire Station No. 3 will have: "4 apparatus bays, administration offices, exercise, meeting, dining, and living room spaces along with bunk rooms for firefighters and administrative offices"…
Read 24 tweets
Mar 2
Council passing the consent agenda, which has a few interesting things on it: First, some changes to the Boulder Junction area.
30th Street from Pearl to Goose Creek (east side) Goose Creek to Valmont (east and west)
Removing on-street parking, “trees in grates” (will be replanted in strip)
Replace with 8-ft “streetscaping planting strip” and 10-ft sidewalk, protected bike lanes

Planning Board OK’d 5-0
Secondly, 2691 30th St - city purchasing for affordable housing
$4.75M total
- $2.2M already paid to seller for 2 yrs as Path to Home, winter homeless shelter will be credited to city
City owes $2.55M more
Read 6 tweets
Mar 2
OK, our crime update.
Presentation here:…
TLDR: Boulder has a lower rate of violent crime than the U.S. and Colorado, but a higher rate of property crime.

A few crimes have increased in recent years, as we'll talk about. But again: Overall, a low violent crime rate, even with the increases.
That's important bc all these graphs show an increase in crime (except for bike thefts). But in some cases, the numbers we're talking about are literally between 0 and 10, like robbery.
Read 67 tweets
Feb 23
Next we're talking: How to pay for the city's climate work.…
The city currently has a few mechanisms for this:
CAP tax (on electricity use)
UOT (originally to fund the muni but now the partnership work with Xcel)
Plus the disposable bag fee, trash tax and some $$ from the Energy Impact Offset fund.
All told, it's about ~$4M per year. But the CAP is expiring next year, and the UOT repurposing/extension in 2025.

Plus, as staff continually notes, current spending is not enough to keep up the growing realities of climate change.
Read 57 tweets

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