A Message from DBA President Janet Drake

Homelessness is a problem that most people want to ignore, but ignored problems won’t be solved. As attorneys in Denver, we are uniquely postured to help the homeless and those on the verge of homelessness.

Homeless_CartTo understand the scope of the problem, I looked at a point-in-time study conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, which determined that there were more than 3,700 homeless people in Denver County in January 2015. Approximately 20% of homeless people were “newly homeless,” meaning that they had been homeless for less than a year and that this was their first episode of homelessness. Factors that contribute to homelessness include unemployment, substance abuse, relationship problems and mental illness. (See mdhi.org.) According to Denver’s Road Home, 64% of the homeless in Metro Denver are families with children and one third of the homeless are working (denversroadhome.org).

How can you make a difference? The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has a Colorado Poverty Law Project that partners with the Denver Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for homeless and at-risk families, children and individuals throughout Colorado. To do so, the Coalition provides housing, health care and a variety of supportive services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes, as well as the consequences, of homelessness, offering critical assistance to more than 15,000 individuals and families each year. Check out their video on “Health Care for the Homeless: An Integrated Approach” here.

The Colorado Poverty Law Project holds a legal clinic on the third Wednesday of each month from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Stout Street Health Center. Volunteer attorneys work with more experienced attorneys until they are comfortable working independently. The Colorado Poverty Law Project also has an Eviction Pro Bono Program that is held in partnership with the Denver County Court Self-Help Center to help people on the verge of eviction. Attorneys are offered legal education about landlord-tenant law so that they can help pro se parties understand the eviction process and related legal remedies. D

Janet

For additional information, please contact:
coloradocoalition.org
Blair Kanis at blair@copovertylawproject.org
Tom Snyder at Tom@copovertylawproject.org

Here is a partial list of other programs
in Denver that help the homeless population:
Colorado Lawyers Committee — coloradolawyerscommittee.org
Denver Rescue Mission — denverrescuemission.org
The Gathering Place — tgpdenver.org
Metro Caring — metrocaring.org
Urban Peak — urbanpeak.org

A special thanks goes to the following individuals who assisted with this article:
Blair Kanis, attorney at Kutak Rock, LLP
Adam Espinoza, Denver County Court Judge
Katy Fleury, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Education and
Advocacy Coordinator
Cat Shea, attorney at the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
Connie Talmage, Executive Director, Colorado Lawyers Committee


Previously posted on The Docket