Aurora “nexus” nonprofits to see steady flow of funding in 2016

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AURORA | Five nonprofit agencies are set to receive city money next year that matches 2015 funding levels. A sixth agency, Comitis, Crisis Center, will receive more money next year to expand services at its 24-hour, 40-bed homeless shelter.

Aurora City Council agreed at a public safety committee meeting Nov. 16 to earmark $864,239 to be split among the six agencies as part of their “Nexus” program, which annually gives money to organizations with a nexus to law enforcement.

The program has proposed awarding $287,729 to Mile High Behavioral Health. According to city documents, that funding will go to a dedicated phone line for law enforcement and APD victim services for placement needs, a 24-hour direct-care office for emergency housing and mental health services, and an emergency and short-term shelter that serves 520 adults and runaway homeless youth. The city has proposed allocating $39,789 more to go to Comitis this year than what they gave the agency in 2015 so it can expand its homeless shelter services.

The city has proposed awarding $119,310 to Arapahoe House,  the only detox treatment facility in Aurora. The APD estimates that in 2016 Arapahoe House will serve at least 1,700 people brought in by the department.

Sungate Kids, an organization that provides forensic interviewing services to law enforcement on child abuse cases, would receive $58,000 under the proposal. Aurora compromises the largest crimes against children reporting system in the 18th Judicial District, and the agency anticipates it will conduct 318 interviews in 2016, according to city documents.

Gateway Battered Women’s Services, Aurora’s only domestic violence service provider, will receive $119,885 under the proposal.

Aurora Mental Health, which helps law enforcement through mental health and counseling and crisis intervention programs, would receive $78,270 under the proposal. According to city documents, AMH should be able to issue 200 hotel vouchers to people during cold-weather nights with that money, a priority for this year’s Nexus program.

Metro Community Provider Network, which works with the aforementioned agencies, would receive $56,595 under the proposal. MCPN provides outreach assistance for the homeless with its Aurora Community Outreach Team, or ACOT.

The Aurora Behavioral Health Care Collaborative would receive $144,450 under the proposal. The program is designed to reduce the number of frequent flyers, those who over-utilize emergency calls and services. The collaborative is made up of Arapahoe House and Aurora Mental Health and includes an interdisciplinary team of treatment providers. In 2014, the program served 28 people referred by Aurora first responders and 84 people referred by the Arapahoe House. In the first half of 2015, it served 33 people referred by Aurora first responders and 50 people from Arapahoe House.

As part of its 2016 funding, the collaborative proposes to add more staff and to treat 100 clients in 2016.

City Councilwoman Barb Cleland, a member of the committee, said she would like city council to review how the funding is allocated amongst the six agencies for 2017.

“You need to re-look at it and see if this is the way it should be,” she said. “We’ve never really looked at it and looked at our priorities and how it works,” she said after the meeting.

Aurora Deputy Police Chief Paul O’Keefe said during the meeting the city would conduct a more extensive cost-benefit analysis on Nexus funding for next year.

Nexus relies on nearly $500,000 from photo red-light fines, which provide city coffers with more than $1 million annually. For the past four years, Colorado lawmakers have attempted to ban the cameras statewide.

This year’s funding for the program still needs to be approved by the full city council in regular session.