Top 10 Local News Stories of 2018: No. 2 — County Implements Coordinated Entry for People Experiencing Homelessness

December 30, 2018
Richard, left, and Roberk, who were homeless at the time,, wait for the HOPE van to arrive in September 2017 at Heart of Longmont, 350 11th Ave.

Top 10 local news stories of 2018

Through Monday, the Times-Call will count down the top stories of the year, as selected by the newspaper’s editors.

10. Longmont high school teams post successful seasons

9. Longmont allows recreational marijuana shops

8. Police officers cleared in shooting death of Gillie Thurby III

7. Longmont adopts 100 percent energy renewable goal.

6. Mile Hi Skydiving under scrutiny after skydiver death, noise controversy

5. Longmont passes affordable housing mandate

4. Rita-Gutierrez-Garcia disappears, believed dead; suspect facing charges in separate sexual assault

3. Proposition 12 fails as communities experiment with methods to contain extraction

2. County implements coordinated entry for people experiencing homelessness

Boulder County’s nascent coordinated entry program for the homeless yielded varying returns in 2018.

The system, officially Homeless Solutions for Boulder County but better known as Coordinated Entry, ideally diverts as many people as possible out of the system so they don’t become homeless in the first place, and the rest — the chronically homeless with mental health, substance abuse or physical health issues — are sheltered until they get housing.

While Boulder’s program began in earnest in late 2017, it has since been the target for some naysayers who fear that the system’s blind spots may be leaving a portion of the homeless population wanting more. Despite the criticism, the program has had success.

Through the beginning of December, 2,284 people have gone through coordinated entry in Boulder and Longmont, according to the city’s dashboard for homeless services. Of those, 301 have “exited” homelessness, either by being housed, sent to long-term programs such as Bridge House’s Ready to Work, or “reunified” with family or friends in Boulder or in another community.

“That really speaks to people accessing the system,” Wendy Schwartz, Boulder’s homeless initiatives manager, told the Camera in November. “It’s a very successful system and people are using it.”

The system has its critics. Most vocally from those who have criticized coordinated entry for the people it leaves out. Those who refuse to go through coordinated entry are turned away from shelters, he said, which creates a false sense that the program has been successful in reducing homelessness locally.

The Way Home, a new homeless advocacy organization in Longmont, formed just two and a half months ago as a group of stakeholders simply getting together to talk about homeless solutions for the area.

In November, it officially joined forces with Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, or HOPE, to begin planning a year-round homeless service center in Longmont — something that’s been talked about for decades.

The goal for the new facilities are to provide emergency shelter in a centralized location where people also can shower, do their laundry and talk with case managers as they try to navigate the coordinated entry system enacted last year as part of the Homeless Solutions for Boulder County program.

Longmont, for example, has reported spending less this year on cleaning up homeless encampments. It had cost Longmont around $8,000 through June, whereas the total last year was nearly $18,000.

Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, hahna@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn

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