Mar 05, 2012

Jake Maguire's picture Posted By Jake Maguire

Colorado Launches Statewide Effort with Colorado Counts

We’ve seen a pattern of whole states enrolling in the Campaign lately, and now you can add Colorado to that list! In Colorado, faced with a variety of state-specific needs and conditions, organizers have carefully customized the Campaign’s Vulnerability Index (VI) to capture additional, locally relevant data while preserving the tool’s research-based core.

Adam Zarrin from the Office of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper discusses the new statewide effort, Colorado Counts, in a guest post below:

Colorado Counts, a statewide collaboration between communities, governments, and the Office of Governor John W. Hickenlooper, aims to provide a comprehensive look at the housing and health needs faced by Colorado’s most vulnerable populations. Governor John W. Hickenlooper has made it clear that in order to address homelessness in Colorado, we must develop more efficient, effective, and elegant solutions. In his new statewide plan to address homelessness, Gov. Hickenlooper will outline a clear focus on eliminating barriers that contribute to housing instability through a strategic and collaborative state plan. Empowering regions around Colorado in their homeless prevention and re-housing initiatives, the plan follows the guidelines from the federal plan, Opening Doors, to:

  • Create capacity, knowledge, leadership, and collaboration;
  • Transform crisis response systems;
  • Increase access to mainstream programs, services, and benefits;
  • Increase opportunities for employment and education;
  • Increase the continuum of housing; and
  • Increase access to health care.

The Governor’s plan lines up well with the goals of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, and we are excited to use the VI as a major implementation tool. Colorado is no stranger to the VI, which both Denver and Homeward 2020 have already deployed through volunteers. Both have since worked to begin housing their most vulnerable homeless residents. Colorado Counts will build off of this momentum by customizing the VI to address our state’s specific needs, optimizing our efforts to house and provide services to those that are most vulnerable in six different regions throughout the state.

We have not hesitated to adopt the VI to our locally specific needs while also taking care to maintain and integrate the research on which the original tool is based. Using our own custom VI, Colorado Counts will help identify the best policies and practices for Colorado, while developing a state-specific model for acquiring and allocating resources and replicating evidence-based best practices. Made possible by a grant from British Petroleum America and support from Community Solutions, our state-specific VI supports local communities in collaborating with one another and activating resources to address those most in need. It will help us to better understand local service gaps and barriers to housing by capturing unique, local and regional information. It will also specifically identify veterans, unaccompanied youth, and families to strengthen statewide effort to eradicate all types of homelessness.

The Colorado Counts effort begins today in Mesa County, where registry week is officially underway. Then, we will look to deploy our customized Colorado VI in multiple rural regions in the coming months.

In the end, we are confident that Colorado Counts can and will:

  • Line up local, state, and federal resources
  • Promote collaboration and streamline access across jurisdictions to ensure resources are used strategically and effectively
  • Mobilize volunteers to assess needs
  • Convene a triage team of decision makers to access resources for most in need
  • Share lessons learned that create sustainable solutions
  • Continue to house those in need, while refining our methods and partnerships

By working together, those involved with Colorado Counts will be able to help all Coloradans find their paths toward a home. It is imperative that we ensure that all Coloradans have a place to call home.