End of an era helps homelessness in Colorado

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Public News Service Colorado News Connection and was shared via AP StoryShare. It was written by Eric Galatas. Galatas works as a writer and producer for the public information service.

By Eric Galatas,

Shortly after the Reagan administration’s massive cuts to public housing and housing assistance, John Parvensky saw the need to help homeless people. After 36 years leading the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Parvensky has announced his retirement.

He said the number of homeless people has varied over the years, but the root causes remain. Denver, for example, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new convention centers, sports stadiums and other infrastructure.

“Yet in terms of human infrastructure, for housing and support services,” said Parvensky, “The dollars are a fraction of those amounts and a fraction of what is needed to meet community needs.

Looking ahead, Parvensky said he hopes recently voter-approved funding for services could be implemented to redirect pipelines to homelessness, for example, helping young people coming out of nursing homes. reception and those released from the criminal justice and mental health systems to access transitional housing. .

Denver estimates there is a shortfall of 27,000 homes considered affordable for families earning less than 30% of the region’s median income, or about $33,000 a year for a family of four.

Parvensky said accelerating the development of nonprofits is key to meeting demand. When housing is treated as a commodity, landlords gain when home values ​​and rents rise, and developers only want to build high-end units for high profits.

“If you don’t own a home or are a tenant, you fall further and further behind as these costs increase,” said Parvensky. “This gap cannot be solved by the market alone, it must be solved with community and public investments.”

Parvensky said he also sees opportunities to build on successful efforts to connect people with medical, mental and behavioral health services, and safe housing for partners fleeing domestic violence.

He said that while no one wants to see tents lining city streets, most people realize that homelessness is a complex issue and requires complex solutions.

“It requires a lot of collaboration” said Parvensky, “and that just requires more investment in all communities to be able to meet the level of need that we see on the streets and in our shelters.”

Disclosure: The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless contributes to our fund to report on budget policy and priorities, health issues, housing/homelessness, poverty issues.

Disclosure: The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless contributes to our fund to report on budget policy and priorities, health issues, housing/homelessness, poverty issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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