By Max R. Weller
See the Times-Call story here — http://www.timescall.com/community/longmont-non-profit/ci_21663068/our-center-prepares-close-its-warming-center-other (Sorry, I can’t get the insert link feature to work correctly). Quoting below:
The OUR Center’s board of directors decided earlier this year to close the warming center because it did not fulfill the nonprofit’s primary goal of self-sufficiency programming . . .
Longmont’s homeless population has more than doubled since 2009, according to numbers from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative’s point-in-time surveys. The most recent survey on Jan. 23 counted 883 homeless in Longmont.
The other consideration is that of the 90 people who slept at the OUR Center’s warming center in the 2011-12 season, only 22 had become homeless in Longmont, according to intake data.
You may recall that the 2012 Point-in-Time Survey showed a decline in the number of homeless people on the streets in Boulder, CO to 750. It’s likely that many had moved on to Longmont, CO from the previous winter in Boulder, after coming from Denver and elsewhere prior to that. Quoting again:
Prior to last season, Longmont people made up between 70 and 90 percent of the warming center clients. [Our Center executive director] Salazar said shrinking resources in neighboring communities may have pushed homeless to Longmont for services.
Here are my thoughts on this issue:
1) I think it’s great for Longmont’s resources to be prioritized for the benefit of their own homeless people. Every city, including Boulder and Denver, should make the same effort. Stop the drifters moving from place to place and grabbing all of the Free Stuff they can, like a swarm of locusts with no respect for themselves, no respect for others, and no respect for the community.
2) It’s a big mistake, however, to shortchange emergency overnight sheltering which can save lives in extreme weather conditions, in favor of any so-called transitional living program which has a very low long-term success rate. And they all do, maybe 10% of clients getting off the streets permanently — and those are the same people who would succeed on their own, anyway, without the dubious benefits of any program.
3) I predict that many transients who had been counted in Longmont last January 23rd will return to Boulder this winter, once again using Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and the emergency warming centers operated by Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow. So, we should expect that the number of homeless people in Boulder will increase in next January’s Point-in-Time Survey.
A final thought expressed in the T-C story by Rick Ebbers, senior pastor at The Journey Church of Longmont:
“One of the shifts that you have to make mentally when you say we’re going to help chronically homeless people is to realize — without it being a defeatist mentality — that some of them are going to remain homeless their entire lives,” Ebbers said.