Homelessness is an issue steeped in complexity and something we witness in our everyday lives. Solutions can seem simple on the surface – just tell them to get a job, find an apartment, go back to school, etc. But these “simple” solutions are never really that simple. The contributions of individuals, while still important, aren’t able to initiate as much positive change as larger entities are capable of.
This is where local government steps in. The City of Wheat Ridge, in response to rising rates of homelessness, has brought various departments together to take action against this increasingly prevalent problem. The city is planning to clean-up homeless camps, and are giving a 24-hour notice to the residents of these camps to pack up any personal belongings and move before the cleanup crews begin working. The city will partner with the Colorado Department of Transportation to remove camps around main roads, such as the I-70 and Kipling area.
According to City Manager Patrick Goff, the objective of these actions is “(to provide) resources to those experiencing homelessness and increasing the number of people moved into permanent housing.” The city’s main focus is on relocating people for their safety and the safety of the community.
City clean-up is an important part of the process, but Goff suggests regional and county programs being used to relocate homeless populations to permanent housing are just as significant. These programs, which include Heading Home, PorchLight and Homeless Navigator, help alleviate the effects of homelessness. Heading Home focuses on providing financial support to low-income individuals and families and is intended to help them escape homelessness.
PorchLight is a family justice center focused on survivors of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking. Homeless Navigator, established in 2020, is comprised of six navigators, including Rebekah Raudabaugh who covers Wheat Ridge, Golden and Edgewater. They work with community leaders to canvas Jeffco, interacting with homeless and low-income individuals to better understand the issues facing these groups and help find stable housing.
While Wheat Ridge is partnering with CDOT to assist with the clean-ups, volunteers are always welcome to aid the city. Upcoming volunteer community clean up events scheduled by Localworks in Wheat Ridge include:
- Kipling Street from 44th Avenue to True Value Hardware, June 26, 8 to 10 a.m.
- 38th Avenue from Sheridan Boulevard to Pierce Street, July 24, 8 to 10 a.m.
- 44th Avenue from Wadsworth Boulevard to Pierce Street, Aug. 21, 8 to 10 a.m.
- Clear Creek Greenbelt, Sept. 25.
Visit wearelocalworks.org for sign up information.