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Building Public Will to Address Homelessness

In The Denver Foundation’s last listening campaign, community members reported far too high a prevalence of unmet basic human needs, a problem that particularly affects individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Losing a job, getting sick, or getting divorced are the most common causes of homelessness. It can happen to anyone. Community members believe that by showing compassion and speaking up for change, we can make Metro Denver a place where all families can have a safe place to call home. 

To increase understanding and engagement, the Foundation is supporting a network of diverse stakeholders who care about homelessness. These groups are working together to communicate about homelessness and to identify actions that will lead to changes and policies that prevent and end homelessness. The initiative is called CLOSE TO HOME,  and the grantee collaboratives are: 

The Foundation is joined in leadership and support of this effort by community members with experience of homelessness, Community Solutions, Denver Homeless Out Loud, The Governor’s Office of Homeless Initiatives, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, and Metro Mayors’ Caucus .

 

Metro Denver Public Opinion Poll                     

This effort was informed by community stakeholders and a public opinion poll the Foundation commissioned to learn more about Metro Denver residents’ awareness, understanding, and values related to homelessness. Metro Denver key findings include:                                                   

About Close to Home

CLOSE TO HOME is a campaign to raise awareness, increase understanding, and move Coloradans to speak up and take actions that make a meaningful difference in addressing homelessness.  Learn more.

Recognition of the Problem

  • More than half of those polled say homelessness is a problem in Metro Denver.
  • Most believe it is nearly impossible or very difficult for people who are homeless to find a home.

Personal Connection

  • More than 1-in-10 of those polled have personally experienced homelessness.
  • 44% have friends or family members who have experienced homelessness.

Who is Homeless

Even as families with children make up more than half of Metro Denver’s homeless population, only 19% of those polled believed there to be higher rates of homeless families.

Why People Become Homeless

Not many of those polled appreciated how unanticipated changes in family circumstances (caused by such things as domestic violence, unemployment, illness, divorce, domestic violence, death of a family member) contribute to homelessness.

Belief in Solutions

  • A majority believes the problem of homelessness in Metro Denver can be improved.
  • Sizable majorities support increased taxes or fees to provide support services (e.g., mental health, substance abuse) and to develop more housing that is affordable to low-income people (types and amounts of taxes and fees were not specified in the poll).
  • There is very little support for punitive measures (e.g., outlawing panhandling, arrests for camping in parks).

Personal Actions

There is a high willingness to take personal actions to help address homelessness (e.g., giving money, volunteering time).

In addition to Metro Denver results [PDF], the following we have the Metro Denver County-Specific Poll Results:

The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative releases data about the number of people experiencing homelessness in Metro Denver. This information is available in their Point in Time Report.