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The Denver Post October 16, 2006
Denver Reps Tour Florida Shelter
By. Stephen Keating
- This city has cut its homeless population from 8,000 to 2,000 since
the early 1990s by creating a public-private partnership that built two
facilities offering an array of support services beyond food and
shelter, including child care, job training and dental treatment.
a one-stop shopping center for the homeless," said Alvah H. Chapman
Jr., the founding chairman of the Community Partnership for Homeless
Inc. and a retired newspaper executive.
About 30 Denver metro
leaders toured one of those centers on Friday to get ideas for Denver's
Road Home, a 10-year initiative to end homelessness. Besides being a
moral imperative and a priority for city government, addressing
homelessness is key to sustaining tourism and convention business, said
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, one of 150 people on a three-day
leadership exchange trip to Miami sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber
"The single biggest concern we get in our surveys is
that panhandling on our streets makes people feel unsafe," said
Hickenlooper, who took Friday's tour.
Key to funding Miami's
overall homeless outreach is a 1 percent food-and-beverage tax, enacted
in 1993 on the city's higher-revenue establishments. The tax now raises
$11 million annually. Officials said the private sector has contributed
$48 million to the effort over the years, with faith-based and civic
groups preparing and providing meals.
The partnership claims that 60 percent of the more than 56,000 persons served in the facilities have gone on to a better life.
The Homeless Assistance Center on North Miami Avenue has 400 beds, with an average stay per resident of 47 days.
find and screen the homeless on the street, then create an action plan
while the residents stay at one of the facilities. The center houses
individuals and families.
"We're one of the few cities in the
country that can talk about a reduction in homelessness," said Alfredo
K. Brown, director of operations for the partnership and a retired Army
He gave a tour of classrooms, bunks, a bustling kitchen
and a $350,000 mobile dental unit where up to 16 homeless people a day
receive basic dental care.
Denver metro leaders said they were
impressed by what they saw - but they wondered whether Miami's unified
approach could or would work in Denver.
responsibility to develop the public money?" asked Richard Scharf,
president of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and a
member of the Denver Commission on Homelessness.
locations for facilities as comprehensive as those in Miami also could
be difficult, said Donna Lynne, president of the Colorado region for
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which has contributed $200,000 to
Denver's effort to stem homelessness.
``You've got the whole NIMBY issue,'' Lynne said, referring to community fears of ``Not in my backyard.''