New “CLOSE TO HOME” Metro Denver Homelessness Campaign Begins

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Poll Finds Many in Metro Denver Personally Affected by Homelessness and Supportive of Investing in Solutions

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CLOSE TO HOME provides a platform for citizen involvement – a critical component that has been missing from efforts to address homelessness.

At a kickoff event at History Colorado Center this morning, the leadership of CLOSE TO HOME launched a five-year campaign to raise awareness, increase understanding, and move Coloradans to speak up and make a meaningful difference in addressing homelessness across Metro Denver. The campaign was developed by a range of community stakeholders and is led by a coalition of nonprofit, government, and business leaders together with individuals who have personally experienced homelessness.

CLOSE TO HOME is jointly led by:
—Community Solutions
—The Denver Foundation
—Denver Homeless Out Loud
—Homeless Liaisons (individuals who have personally experienced homelessness)
—Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce
—Metro Denver Homeless Initiative
—Metro Mayors Caucus
—Governor Hickenlooper's Homeless Initiative Team
Click here to read statements from members of the leadership team.

This morning’s event included remarks from former Miss Colorado USA, Blair Griffith; Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; Aurora Mayor Stephen D. Hogan; Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO, Kelly Brough; The Denver Foundation’s President and CEO, David Miller; and CLOSE TO HOME partner, Leanne Wheeler; with video comments by Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia; and Jan Watkins, a former TV news producer who experienced homelessness.

CLOSE TO HOME will be implemented by a grassroots network composed of diverse stakeholders who care about people experiencing homelessness in Metro Denver. Three community collaboratives received grants from The Denver Foundation to work together to increase understanding, encourage engagement, and identify specific actions that will lead to systems and policy changes that address homelessness.

Participating organizations are Aurora@Home, Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Bank of the West, CBS/Channel 4, Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Colorado Council of Churches, Community College of Denver, Family Tree, Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, Warren Village, and Women with a Cause Foundation.

The idea for the campaign began in a listening tour conducted by The Denver Foundation. Residents across the seven-county Metro Denver area said far too many people cannot meet their basic needs, especially housing, hunger, or access to basic medical care. They said we need to increase understanding, compassion, and get more people engaged to solve these challenges.

In January, 2015, the Foundation commissioned a public opinion poll to learn more about Metro Denver residents’ awareness, understanding, and values related to homelessness. Among the poll’s key findings:
—A majority of residents (58%) see it as an “extremely or very serious” problem in the Metro region.
—Metro Denver residents’ predominant image of the homeless is single males (66%). Few (19%) were aware that more than half of those experiencing homelessness are families and children.
—Many residents have personally experienced a period of homelessness (1 in 10), and nearly half (43%) have a close friend or family member who has been homeless.
—Only 7% of residents believe they have a “major responsibility” to play in helping to address homelessness.
—A strong majority (88%) believes the problem of homelessness in Metro Denver can be improved or even solved.

“We have strong data and the input of a wide array of community members across Metro Denver, including individuals who have personally experienced homelessness, which confirms a real need to increase understanding about homelessness—who is affected, why, and potential remedies,” said Monica Buhlig, Director of Basic Human Needs at The Denver Foundation. “The CLOSE TO HOME campaign provides a platform for citizen involvement – a critical component that has been missing from efforts to address homelessness. We know people care, but they often don’t know how best to help. And we know that seemingly small actions add up and provide the support needed to drive significant change.”

The goals of CLOSE TO HOME are to:
—Mobilize Metro Denver residents to address the underlying causes of homelessness.
—Increase understanding so that Metro Denver residents experiencing homelessness are viewed by others, and regard themselves, as valuable members of our communities.
—Make homelessness a priority issue in Metro Denver.

Additional information and media resources are available at

CLOSE TO HOME is a diverse network that is working together to share real stories about homelessness, identify actions and policies that make a meaningful difference, and rally our community. #CloseToHomeCO

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Laura Bond
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