Aurora council passes mayor’s ‘work-first’ homelessness plan

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AURORA | A majority of Aurora lawmakers on Monday approved a plan meant to guide the city’s response to homelessness along the lines of a “work-first” strategy prioritizing employment as a path to stability.

The proposal changed little from Oct. 24, when a vote on it was postponed so Mayor Mike Coffman, who sponsored the plan, could work with Councilmember Juan Marcano on incorporating friendly amendments by Marcano into the main text of the bill.

At the time, council members expressed frustration with the number of amendments that Coffman was accepting on-the-fly, questioning why he couldn’t have worked with Marcano on the bill beforehand rather than taking up time during a meeting.

On Monday, Coffman said he considered Marcano’s amendments and worked a few into the bill during the three-week interlude, though Marcano said the mayor had declined to meet with him.

Marcano still brought close to a dozen amendments forward Monday, including proposals to soften the “work-first” language in the plan, offer specific criteria for measuring the plan’s efficacy, and commit to specific strategies.

Council members voted to pass amendments replacing instances of the phrase “self-sufficiency” with “self-reliance” and adding as a strategy rapid rehousing for “low-acuity individuals and families.”

After debating six of the amendments, Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky and Coffman moved to end debate on each of the remaining amendments, all of which failed. Jurinsky accused Marcano of creating a “hostage situation” by delaying the rest of the agenda until his amendments were considered.

Marcano in turn said his fellow council members were “abusing” the motion to end debate, saying it showed that “folks are not willing or able to defend their stances and don’t have the patience to craft thoughtful policy, and that’s really a shame.”

Jurinsky replied that the “real abuse” was Marcano accusing others of wrongdoing, while Marcano was attending the meeting remotely, which he was permitted to do under council rules.

“Before you go accusing somebody of abuse, show up in person and say it to our face next time,” Jurinsky said 

Marcano said he was recovering from a surgery, and that he wasn’t “afraid to tell you what I think to your face.” He then winked at Jurinsky, who challenged him to “do that in person, too.”

Aurora’s City Council has made addressing homelessness a major priority this year, with conservatives rolling out bills such as the city’s new urban camping ban meant to cut down on the phenomenon of people setting up tents and temporary shelters in public. At the same time, the number of shelter beds has lagged behind the projected size of Aurora’s homeless population.

Coffman presented his plan after City Council members visited Houston and San Antonio, Texas, to study those cities’ responses to homelessness. The mayor and others have described the plan as “work-first” because homeless clients will be expected to participate in programs such as job training and substance abuse treatment to access greater levels of help.

Coffman said emergency shelter will still be offered to citizens with minimal restrictions. A nonprofit organization will be expected to operate a central facility where the city would co-locate services as much as possible.

Councilmember Francoise Bergan walked back an addition she previously proposed that would have limited the use of general fund dollars on the campus, reflecting the fact that the details of funding for the campus have not been finalized.

Other elements of the plan include:

  • Quantifying the city’s success at addressing homelessness based on the number of clients who have achieved self-reliance.
  • Offering employment services, emergency support and case management for the homeless.
  • Developing a public communication strategy to educate the public about how the city’s program works and how members of the public can offer support.
  • Secure money from the county, state and federal governments to build the central facility.

Council members voted 7-3 to pass the mayor’s plan, with Alison Coombs, Marcano and Crystal Murillo voting in opposition. Because the plan was a resolution, it will not require a second vote.

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Doug
Doug
21 days ago

I watched the antics about Monday with some amusement.. it was difficult to listen to the rambling of Coffman. Danielle reminded me of a petulant child. Dustin? Definitely a Republican. The council is in disarray in my opinion.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
20 days ago
Reply to  Doug

If by disarray, you mean that your socialists keep getting slapped down by those who want to do something about crime, drug abuse, and homelessness to clean up this city, then yes. Disarray.

FactsOverFeelings
FactsOverFeelings
19 days ago

Socialist…“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The literal fascist Nazi trying to constantly insult people by saying they…care about the welfare of others? Think that maybe billionaires should be paying taxes? That maybe people shouldn’t have their rights stripped away because they don’t fit with your tiny, sad, Christian world view? It’s really not the insult you think it is buddy.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
21 days ago

Love how it’s branded “work first” to try to make it sound as inhumane as possible. The reality is, everyone is welcome to enter the ladder of programs, but people are incentivized to take some responsibility and commit to getting better, instead of being enabled to perpetuate an unhealthy lifestyle.

Zero
Zero
20 days ago

He could have called it Bootstraps First and it would have been more accurate. Bootstraps are a myth, just like Coffman’s credibility.

Grinch
Grinch
20 days ago

Working for a living is inhumane? C’mon now

StrongChildren
StrongChildren
18 days ago

“Work First” an excellent message from the city. It will help minimize the number of homeless who move into the city from other states and municipalities who want to extract free services without any personal accountability. The city can then generously focus on the most needy of its own citizenry, including those with disabilities, children, and temporary difficulties.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
21 days ago

Also, for the record, I’d LOVE Marcano to show his “surgery scar” because I doubt that anything even happened.

sugar
sugar
19 days ago

such empathy – your mother would be so proud!

Aly
Aly
19 days ago

You are a psychopath. No one owes you visuals of their wounds or body, and it’s absolutely 100% unreasonable for you to expect that. Why are you so obsessed with this man, and what makes you entitled to any of his business, especially his health info or access to his body parts? How about you post pics of your body to prove you’re real, Hypocrisy Monitor? You don’t even use your name. Sickening.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
21 days ago

Uninformed plan which is not based on any facts, science or data or experts experience and data about what worked, opposite of what Aurora Council saw when visited other successful jurisdictions, totally in opposition to “housing first model” which has been successful, just based on Coffman’s uninformed made up view – he has no expertise at all and has not tried to learn anything about what has been successful in helping homeless get housing and needed services and become more self-sufficient with a case manager and then maintain that positive effort (just as hard to maintain housing as to get it in the first place). Our tax $ wasted on Coffman trips around US and now wasted on badly-conceived plan that no experts support and is not based on facts. Just like all Coffman’s other poorly-conceived management plans. No ability to lead or get a team of qualified people in place to advise and find solutions. VOTE COFFMAN OUT. He will make the situation worse every time.

Grinch
Grinch
20 days ago

Coffman modeled his plan after San Antonio’s which seems to be successful. (Their mayor runs as unaffiliated, but the current fellow was endorsed by Julian Castro,, a Democrat. )

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2022/10/17/san-antonio-surpasses-goal-to-get-hundreds-of-homeless-people-off-streets/&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwiY_7Xex7X7AhUjCjQIHbyDBb4QFnoECAkQAg&usg=AOvVaw3KvLsCLwLnrx-Dh7dSllYA

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
20 days ago

Ms. McKillop, you’re perpetually on here spewing your ignorant progressive talking points to push failed ideas like “Housing First.”

The reality is, Housing First is bad policy. It has failed in Denver. It fails in San Francisco. In LA. In Portland. In Seattle. In every city where it rears its ugly head. You will never admit that people must WANT to get better. Your investment in the industrial complex of homelessness precludes it.

Zero
Zero
20 days ago

This time next year, when homeless people are still bothering you (or when you’re still homeless), I hope the whole city remembers every time Coffman has sold us snake oil to bolster his political career. He WANTS homelessness to continue to be a problem in our city because he can keep selling you the “solution” over and over again on his election years. He WANTS you not to understand how homelessness works, so that you keep feeling mad and bitter at homeless people instead of being mad and bitter at the real causes of homelessness. He is using a crisis, and the lives of Aurorans, as political pawns. I hope Aurora pays attention to the real results of his bloating lies this time. Did homelessness stop with the stupid ban he sold you last time he was running? No, and he knew it wouldn’t because the data from other cities told him it wouldn’t, but he sold it to you anyway. Will homelessness stop with this stupid “work first” plan? No, and he knows it won’t because the data from other cities told him it wouldn’t, but he’s selling it to you anyway – it’s a new election year, new bullshit from Coffman year. Wise up, Aurora!

FactsOverFeelings
FactsOverFeelings
20 days ago

‘Marcano in turn said his fellow council members were “abusing” the motion to end debate, saying it showed that “folks are not willing or able to defend their stances and don’t have the patience to craft thoughtful policy, and that’s really a shame.”’

The modern Republican stance – “we don’t care about facts, we don’t care about logic, we’re going to cover our ears and do whatever we feel like to appease our uneducated, racist voter base”.

Omen Cross
Omen Cross
20 days ago

Might I add here, that whether we all agree with each other or not, right or wrong, we are still having more debate here than is normally allowed by Members of the Council. They spend more time being worried about what time they get home than the quality of their legislation.