Tag Archives: Boulder City Council

Utah says it won ‘war on homelessness’, but shelters tell a different story

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, DON’T BE FOOLED BY HOUSING FIRST!

By Max R. Weller

This article from the U.S. edition of the Guardian is one that I missed a year ago, but it paints an entirely different picture from what Housing First advocates would have us believe . . . Excerpt copied below:

A year after Utah officials announced to great fanfare that chronic homelessness had been nearly wiped out, a battle is brewing over the future of the largest shelter in the state.

Not because the Road Home, in Salt Lake City, and its 1,000-plus beds aren’t needed in the Utah capital – but because they are.

On Sunday night, the massive operation housed 1,041 men, women and children on triple bunks in overflow dormitories, in small rooms for desperate families, on so-called medical beds for the sickest and most frail, on yoga mats on the floor.

Some had spent more than 3,000 nights in the jammed facility, one of the nation’s biggest. More than 300 fit the shelter’s definition of chronic homelessness, even if they don’t match the federal government’s guidelines, which the state used to trumpet their good news a year ago on 28 April.

That’s when the state housing and community development division boasted in a press release: “Utah’s Chronic Homelessness Approaching ‘Functional Zero.’ State Achieves Goal Ten Years in the Making.” 

Headlines across the country lauded the Beehive State and its rare statewide Housing First program, which strives to place homeless people in permanent housing before addressing their addiction and mental health issues. Utah had cut the chronic ranks by 91% in the last decade, said Gordon Walker, division director at the time, and there were only 178 chronically homeless people left statewide.

“The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions,” trumpeted the Washington Post. “Utah Reduced Chronic Homelessness by 91%; Here’s How”, cheered NPR. “Utah is winning the war on homelessness with ‘Housing First’ program”, said the Los Angeles Times.

Except no one at the state had bothered to run the announcement by service providers such as the Road Home and Crossroads Urban Center – groups that support the state’s efforts but also work each day with the men, women and children who still have no place to call home.

“Making a statement like that was in direct contrast to what you see on the street,” said Glenn Bailey, executive director of Crossroads, which runs a food pantry and thrift store and fights for economic justice. “It’s an exaggeration. It wasn’t helpful … since the recession, the largest single part of the homeless population that’s grown is families with children, and youth”.

When asked whether he agreed that Utah’s chronic homeless population was nearing “functional zero”, Road Home executive director Matt Minkevitch replied: “I would differ with that perspective.”

(Emphasis above is mine — MRW)

Utah is exhibit A for the most difficult reality of homelessness in the US today: It is possible to work hard, be innovative, make headway – all of which Utah has done – and still be nowhere near “winning the war on homelessness”, or even the fight to put a permanent roof over the most vulnerable . . .

On the coldest, dampest nights of the year, the Road Home cares for upwards of 1,300 people. Nine hundred or so sleep in the cinderblock facility, across the street from a soup kitchen and a day center run by Catholic Community Services. Around 300 are housed in the family shelter in Midvale, about 11 miles away.

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It’s worth reading the entire article. Reminds me of what Housing First advocates here in Boulder, CO are claiming — which is so far out of line with what we can see on the streets that the do-gooders, chief among them Greg Harms of Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Betsey Martens of Boulder Housing Partners, have destroyed their credibility among the homeless who don’t really trust the “system” in the first place.

There’s a helluva lot of money in it, however. Or there will be until private donors and government agencies alike wake up to the fact that — in the current system — More Homeless People = More Money. Of course, you have to pitch Housing First as a solution that actually works to continue milking more dollars:

Cash Cow

What about the homeless men, women, and children left out by Housing First? Look close, they’re huddling beneath the trees wrapped in recycled disaster blankets . . .

Meanwhile, the alcoholics in expensive HF apartments are still drinking themselves to death, at a slower rate in a few cases, but heading for an early grave just the same.

BTW, I was in Salt Lake City for about a month back in late 2004, and I stayed at the Road Home. It sounds to me like things are much worse now!

(E-mailed to Boulder City Council).

‘Boulder’s long-term homelessness strategy’

This sidebar appeared in the Daily Camera today:

Boulder’s long-term homelessness strategy

The City Council had intended to hold a full discussion Tuesday night of Boulder’s long-term homelessness strategy. However, other agenda items ran late, and that conversation didn’t kick off until after 10 p.m. Council members heard and briefly responded to presentations from city staff, but the planned deliberation about funding and programmatic priorities was delayed until the council’s June 20 meeting.

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You should be aware that at least one BCC member is talking about using the old Boulder Community Hospital site at Broadway & Alpine for interim homeless shelter / services. As if we aren’t doing TOO DAMN MUCH already!

Of course, I vehemently oppose anything which will tend to make Boulder, CO a destination city for BUMS.

— MRW 

E-mail from Police Chief Greg Testa to Boulder City Council re: Sexually Violent Predator at Boulder Shelter

Copied below in its entirety:

On May 2, 2017, at 9:46 AM, Testa, Greg <TESTAG@bouldercolorado.gov<mailto:TESTAG@bouldercolorado.gov>> wrote:

Dear Council Members,

As you may know Christopher Lawyer, a parolee and person who has been identified as a sexually violent predator by the State of Colorado has registered with the police department and indicated he is going to be staying at the Shelter.  Mr. Lawyer was originally arrested for committing crimes in Boulder and convicted in 2001.  He served 16 years in the Department of Corrections and was paroled in 2016 to his mother’s house just east of the city limits in unincorporated Boulder County.  At some point during his stay at his mother’s house he violated the terms of his parole and was rearrested and served six months.

He was recently released and had plans to live in Jamestown.  Mr. Lawyer didn’t move to Jamestown for several reasons, including limited cell service, which is needed for his ankle monitor.  Also, law enforcement response to Jamestown is 30-40 minutes away.   He then had plans to move to Longmont and to stay in a motel.  The motel owner indicated he could not stay due to community concern.

The Boulder Police Department was recently told that Mr. Lawyer would be staying at the Shelter.  We were not involved in the decision making process in this case or in any similar case.  I have been told that the Shelter has “parole beds”, which I was not aware of.  Additionally, Shelter staff has stated that it’s law enforcement’s policy for paroled sex offenders to say at the Shelter rather than  live on the street, because we (law enforcement) know the location where the offender is staying.  I think it’s accurate to say that law enforcement would prefer an offender to be registered and staying at a physical location with an address, in lieu of living on the street or in a vehicle; however, we would prefer that these types of offenders not come to our community in the first place.   I am not aware of any local law enforcement policy regarding this assertion. (Emphasis is mine — MRW)

The Boulder Police Department has notified our community that Mr. Lawyer has registered and is staying at the Shelter.  We have had many conversations with State officials regarding this matter and have spoken with Shelter staff.  We are continuing to meet and gather information to determine how long Mr. Lawyer will be staying at the Shelter and we are following up on information that he may be moving his parole out of state.

The State of Colorado has specific laws regarding sex offenders and those individuals who have been labeled sexually violent predators (SVP’s), including registering with the local law enforcement agency in the community they are going to reside.  The Boulder Police Department, like other law enforcement agencies, is not consulted in agreeing to allow these offenders to stay in their communities.  We often learn they will reside in our community when they register with us as required by law.

I hope this information helps to understand this situation better.

Sincerely, Greg

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What I understand is that Greg Harms (executive director) and others in charge at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless think they can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes! Read the paragraph I italicized above again:

The Boulder Police Department was recently told that Mr. Lawyer would be staying at the Shelter.  We were not involved in the decision making process in this case or in any similar case.  I have been told that the Shelter has “parole beds”, which I was not aware of.  Additionally, Shelter staff has stated that it’s law enforcement’s policy for paroled sex offenders to say at the Shelter rather than  live on the street, because we (law enforcement) know the location where the offender is staying.  I think it’s accurate to say that law enforcement would prefer an offender to be registered and staying at a physical location with an address, in lieu of living on the street or in a vehicle; however, we would prefer that these types of offenders not come to our community in the first place.   I am not aware of any local law enforcement policy regarding this assertion. (Emphasis is mine — MRW)

Well, I think Chief Testa is speaking for the vast majority of Boulderites in stating that “. . . we would prefer that these types of offenders not come to our community in the first place.”

AMEN to that!

Really, I’m beginning to think it might be best for everyone — including the many adult survivors of sexual abuse who stay at BSH — if the place just closed down permanently. After all, back in Boulder, CO’s celebrated Hippie Era over 40 years ago there were NO homeless shelter / services providers, and the hippies got along much better then than do the homeless people here now.

Sexually Violent Predator Christopher Lawyer, soon to be a resident of Boulder Shelter for the Homeless at 4869 N. Broadway.

I’ll end today’s post with this question: How are Greg Harms and the other rapist-friendly staff at BSH able to sleep at night?

— MRW

Addendum: Here’s the scoop on the money Boulder Shelter will be receiving from the Colorado DOC: How a sexually violent predator secured a ‘parole bed’ from KUSA-TV. Copied below in its entirety:

KUSA – A sexually violent predator on parole who was unable to find housing in Jamestown and Longmont now lives in Boulder with the help of a voucher system for parolees run by the Colorado Department of Corrections. 

Boulder Police notified the community Monday that Christopher Lawyer, 42, secured a parole bed at the privately-run Boulder Shelter for the Homeless off Broadway and Lee Hill Drive.

A spokesman for the DOC says a parole bed refers to when the department pays a shelter or motel to temporarily house a parolee while that person seeks permanent housing. Interim public information officer Mark Fairbairn says shelters do not specially designate space at their facilities for parolees. Across Colorado, the DOC says 196 offenders are living in shelters.

Fairbairn says costs can vary depending where a parolee is staying. In Lawyer’s case, Fairbairn says it ranges from $60 to $280 per week. The state will continue to fund Lawyer’s stay at the shelter while he looks for more permanent housing to prevent him from living on the streets.

The shelter’s executive director Greg Harms says Lawyer could live at the shelter for up to 60 days, which is the limit placed on all guests during the summer. Lawyer must also follow the same rules as non-parolees, Harms said.

Lawyer pleaded guilty in 2001 to first and second degree sexual assault. He was accused of kidnapping and raping a newspaper delivery woman at gunpoint in Boulder. The DOC prevented him from moving to Jamestown in late April in part because of concerns raised by the community. A planned move to Longmont also fell through on Sunday

Boulder Police Chief Greg Testa told city council Tuesday night that the police department plans to meet with shelter staff Wednesday to learn more about Lawyer’s living arrangements. Testa also said Lawyer is a life-time parolee and would have to register his address monthly with police. 

According to Testa, Lawyer wears a GPS ankle monitor and the terms of his parole heavily restrict his movements outside of the shelter. Lawyer is also unemployed and doesn’t own a car, Testa said.

Boulder has a total of 123 registered sex offenders, Testa announced. Two, including Lawyer, are labeled sexually violent predators. Testa says people can register online to receive notifications when a sex offender moves into their zip code. 

The DOC currently tracks how many parolees are homeless. It did not have the exact number immediately available.

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Lots of good info here that the Daily Camera missed (imagine that).

I’ve also caught Greg Harms in ANOTHER LIE: Mr. Lawyer can sign up for the First Step / Transition Program at BSH and stay there for 9 months! The 60-day limit only applies to the Summer Bed Program.

— MRW 

Submitted letter-to-editor of Daily Camera 4/26/2017

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP THE TRANSIENT MIGRATION TO BOULDER, CO!

By Max R. Weller

Assuming I didn’t inadvertently run over the 300-word limit for a letter-to-editor, this should appear on the DC’s website and in print this weekend:

Boulder Shelter refuses to investigate theft of $350 from my locker (and police have nothing to go on)

IT’S A SAD DAY WHEN A NONPROFIT ROBS A HOMELESS CLIENT . . .

By Max R. Weller

To refresh your memory read Robbed of $350 from my ‘secure’ locker at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and I suspect a staff member.

This morning, I finally received a hand-delivered letter in response to the written grievance I’d filed last Saturday, the same morning I discovered my money had been stolen. This letter from Chad (no last name given), Assistant Director of Programs, was dated March 27, 2017 — last Monday. This is interesting, because BSH’s big staff meeting always occurs on Tuesday mornings; apparently, a crime like this against a handicapped 61-year-old homeless client (that’s ME) isn’t considered important enough to even make the agenda!

Here’s the body of Chad’s letter to me:

Dear Mr. Weller,

I received your grievance and understand that you believe (empahsis is mine — MRW) that money has been taken from your locker. I am sorry to hear this. The Shelter strives to provide secure storage for residents and it is concerning to hear this report of theft.*

If you feel (again, emphasis is mine) that a crime has been committed at the Shelter, I would strongly suggest that you notify the police immediately. 

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Sincerely, 

(signed) Chad

Assistant Director of Programs

* Nothing at all prevents the Shelter from making a police report based on my grievance, and I’d be happy to assist a detective if only I could believe that the Shelter would be fully cooperative with any criminal investigation. I feel that this is NOT the case, however, and police would be stonewalled just as I’ve been. Thus, I’m NOT inclined to waste law enforcement’s time — Chad and others would only deny knowledge of the crime and no suspect(s) on staff could be identified. This is, of course, CYA by the Shelter.

I’m NOT surprised by the overall condescending tone of the Shelter’s response.

Those of you who are solicited by Boulder Shelter for the Homeless for donations in the future would do well to remember this incident — it’s indicative of corruption that goes straight to the top at this so-called nonprofit. And feel free to mention my name when you refuse to give your $$$ or time to BSH. 

(This post e-mailed to Boulder City Council.)

Response by one Boulder City Council member to yesterday’s post

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP ENABLING BAD BEHAVIOR!

By Max R. Weller

See: ‘Sunshine Fire west of Boulder sparked by campfire at apparent transient camp’ which was e-mailed to all nine members of BCC. One of them, who shall remain nameless here, made this reply by e-mail:

Max,

I have read all your posts. I am certainly one who has been sitting on my hands. I often agree with what you say, and I definitely agree with this one.

[Name deleted by me — MRW]

Member of City Council

Still waiting for word of the arrest(s) of the knucklehead(s) responsible . . . Whoever it is most likely is still enjoying Free Stuff at all of the many giveaway venues in Boulder, CO:

How about a Free Bus Ticket on RTD bound for Denver and a sack lunch to-go? 

‘Sunshine Fire west of Boulder sparked by campfire at apparent transient camp’

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP ENABLING BAD BEHAVIOR — THIS MEANS YOU, BOULDER CITY COUNCIL!

By Max R. Weller

Read the latest report in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:

Boulder County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe that the cause of the 74-acre Sunshine Fire west of Boulder was a campfire on Boulder open space.

Investigators say that evidence at the fire’s point of origin near the Centennial Trailhead indicated the blaze was started by a campfire in what appeared to be a transient camp, according to a release.

According to the release, the fire was surrounded by rocks in a “hastily fashioned ad hoc campfire ring of sorts.” Investigators found moisture and kicked up dirt, which led them to believe an attempt was made to extinguish the campfire at one point in time.

A firefighting airplane drops retardant on the Sunshine Fire west of Boulder on Sunday. Both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft were used to battle the

A firefighting airplane drops retardant on the Sunshine Fire west of Boulder on Sunday. Both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft were used to battle the wildfire. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

There are no suspects at this time, and the fire remains under investigation.

The cost of fighting the fire has been estimated at $725,000.

Several neighbors indicated campfires and transient camps had become a frequent sight in the area.

The city of Boulder prohibits camping and campfires on all city open space land, and violations can result in a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Boulder County is also currently under a fire ban for areas west of Broadway.

The two [transients from Alabama] accused of starting the Cold Springs Fire in 2016 by not properly extinguishing a campfire were also charged with arson and sentenced to work release.

The fire was first reported at about 1:40 a.m. Sunday by a man who said he saw flames near Sunshine Canyon and Timber Lane.

The fire prompted mandatory evacuations for 426 homes and pre-evacuation notices for another 836 homes before crews were able to reach full containment on the fire Monday afternoon. No structures were damaged.

The cost of fighting the fire has been estimated at $725,000.

Anyone with information in the investigation of the Sunshine Fire should contact Boulder County sheriff’s Detective Jason Shatek at 303-441-3641. Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or nococrimestoppers.com/ (Emphasis is mine — MRW)

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Rumors about the identities of possible suspects have been passed around by some homeless people in Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and we can hope that solid leads will be passed on to investigators.

Let me address the major problem here — Boulder City Council members sitting on their hands as the nonprofits in our local homeless shelter / services industry WELCOME transients to our city, far beyond what resources here can provide for. It’s Boulder County’s own homeless men, women, and children who are getting shortchanged as Travelers grab all of the Free Stuff they can, then repay Boulder, CO’s kindness by burning down the countryside (whether by accident or on purpose doesn’t matter at this point).

How many times has the Homeless Philosopher acted as a voice crying in the wilderness, pleading for the commonsense approach of requiring valid photo ID showing a Boulder County address and proof of at least one year’s residency for anyone seeking shelter / services from any nonprofit in our city?

What can Council members do? Summon Greg Harms of Boulder Shelter, Isabel McDevitt of Bridge House / Community Table, Nancy Brinks of Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, and all the other players who are negligently endangering the public safety and hurting the quality of life here to a public meeting — then make it clear that the city itself intends to become much more engaged in addressing homelessness, including cutting off all taxpayer funding to those nonprofits who fail to get on board.

In addition, provide bus tickets on RTD bound for Denver and sack lunches to-go for any transient who either requests them or is caught by police committing any petty offense (Smoking in Prohibited Area, Drinking from Open Container, Smoking Marijuana in Public, Illegal Camping, Trespassing, etc.) and would prefer to leave town rather than appear in court.

Boulder City Council no longer has any excuse for NOT taking action — the transients and their apologists / enablers have proven themselves unworthy to retain the public trust!

(This post e-mailed to Boulder City Council.)