Read the guest opinion in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:
As a resident of the Whittier neighborhood, I share my neighbors’ concerns that placing a high-density housing development in our historic residential neighborhood will forever change its character. But that’s not the main reason that I am opposed to transitional housing project proposed for 1440 Pine Street. It is the wrong location for the at-risk population it is intended to serve. The plan is to build 40 apartments in downtown Boulder for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. This means that they have grown up, going from one residential placement to another. Typically, rejected, neglected, or abused as children, these emotionally scarred victims of circumstance desperately need guidance and support in order to become productive members of society versus ending up in jail, or worse.
Having had the privilege of working for Attention Homes, the proposed service provider for this facility, as well as serving on their board of directors, I had the opportunity to work with these children over many years, often feeling emotionally overwhelmed by their chilling histories, crying in my car on my way home from work. This is a population close to my heart. That’s why I feel compelled to speak out. By locating this facility so close to downtown Boulder, we will be setting up a large percentage of these residents to fail. I know this because when Attention Homes had a facility down the block from the proposed site, we would regularly “lose children to Pearl Street,” seeing them intoxicated and begging for money in the company of older drifters days later.
The flawed logic being espoused by the developers is that this is a great location because it’s near public transportation and job opportunities, when in fact any location on the bus route would accomplish the same goal without all of the unhealthy temptations. Particularly because there will be no ongoing supervision or treatment requirements for residents, according to Attention Homes.
Moreover, to see such a storied nonprofit veer from its mission in order to survive financially is heartbreaking. I also had the privilege of working with juvenile court judge Horace Holmes, who brought kids from his courtroom to his own home for respite, which provided the genesis of the Attention Homes model. Namely, taking kids out of institutions and placing them in a small homelike setting to recreate a sense of warmth and family. This is the first time in their 50-year history that they are breaking from that tradition. And due to reduced funding to provide alternate housing for children in need, to see them abandoning that effort in favor of now working with adults because of better funding opportunities, has us as a community abandoning these children all over again.
The ugly truth is that the location of this proposed facility is driven by financial gain for all three partners; The church will get their property developed at no cost to them, Attention Homes will have the funds necessary to keep operating, and the for-profit developer will, well, make their profit. Just imagine what they can do with 40 apartments in downtown Boulder, once their 15-year agreement with Attention Homes expires.
Jan Hittelman is a licensed psychologist in Boulder.
Facility at 3080 N. Broadway; new addition completed in 2013
Changing the mission of Attention Homes from its original focus on vulnerable kids ages 12-17 to young adults ages 18-24 is indeed something “driven by financial gain” as the commentary above states. I find it unconscionable, as well as unneeded, because a ton of other resources are available for the 18-24 crowd . . . Also ironic, because the young adults are often preying on the kids.
STOP THIS INSANITY!