DENVER | Gov. Jared Polis and a bevy of state lawmakers convened Monday to discuss several bills offering statewide solutions to combat local homelessness.
Polis cautioned that state investments alone will not solve the problem, and that municipal governments will need to step up as well.
Coloradans are demanding action, and it’s time to deliver,” Polis said. “We’re long past finger pointing, it’s time to deliver real results in reducing homelessness.”
Polis discussed the state’s plans to repurpose the former Ridge View Youth Services Center in southeast Aurora on East Quincy Avenue, which will be turned into a hub for homelessness services along with substance abuse and mental health support.
He also said there are plans in the works to create a similar campus elsewhere in the Denver area.
“This will provide a good opportunity for local governments across the Denver metro area and private and philanthropic partners to show innovation and collaboration towards data-driven policies that will reduce homelessness.”
Polis said that he visited the Ready to Work program in Aurora, which he praised for the work it does in the community helping people get back on their feet.
Stella Watson, a Ready to Work graduate, spoke about the importance of the program and how vital it is for people trying to exit homelessness.
“They provide everything that you need to get your life back,” she said. “The love and support you get inside that program…you can’t even describe it.”
“Having more programs like this in the community is what we need to help end homelessness,” Watson said.
Aurora Democratic Rep. Iman Jodeh, who represents the district where Ready to Work is located and sits on the health and human services committee, spoke about the work the legislature is doing to address the root causes of homelessness, including poverty and addiction.
“What we’re doing this session is taking a comprehensive look at this issue,” she said.
Jodeh said that today, she and several other legislators will be introducing legislation to dedicate $50 million in federal pandemic relief funds to the Denver metro area for collaborations between local governments and nonprofits to create a navigation campus to prevent and respond to homelessness.
Cathy Alderman, a spokesperson for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, expressed thanks to Polis and the legislature for taking action at the state level on this issue.
“These one-time investments will create not just opportunities for individuals but for communities to stabilize, to thrive and to create safer spaces for the people within them,” she said.