Greeley officials to hold forums on homelessness and affordable housing – Greeley Tribune

Greeley officials will host community forums this month to discuss homelessness and affordable housing, as officials explore ideas for addressing these issues in the community.

The forums are the first of several public community conversations, according to a city press release. Forums are held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16 and at the same time on Thursday, February 17. The February 16 meeting will be via Zoom and the next meeting will be in person at the Greeley Recreation Center, 651 10th Avenue.

Residents are encouraged to RSVP to attend either or both forums at bit.ly/homeless-housing. The Zoom link will be provided after an RSVP is received.

Residents will be invited to share their perceptions of homelessness and housing insecurity, how it affects their lives, and how the community could work together to meet growing needs.

Greeley City Council last month discussed tackling homelessness following a presentation by the town’s acting deputy manager, Becky Safarik, The NoCo Optimist reported. Safarik said the city is working closely with United Way of Weld County to address the issue, and a city-funded collaboration on a navigation center for housing and cold-weather shelter is coming quickly.

A collaborative effort recently served 94 people in need of shelter, helping 38 find permanent housing, according to a United Way statement. From November 2020 to the end of December 2021, the non-profit organization’s COVID-19 shelter in Bonell was a 24-hour shelter that served homeless people who were vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or of their state of health.

“While the shelter was open, United Way staff helped clients save money, take care of their health needs, pay off debts, work on sobriety and secure career opportunities. “Bonell project coordinator Jayme Schledewitz said in the statement.

In addition to the 38 people who found permanent housing, three left the shelter with a housing voucher for permanent housing in hand, according to United Way. Twenty-nine exited on their own or because they did not meet behavioral requirements at the shelter; three went to health facilities; four died due to health problems; and 17 went to other places when the shelter closed, including friends and family, rehab, shelters and motels.

United Way said a man helped by the shelter, Stan, was a veteran and native of Greeley. Chronically homeless for many years, Stan was referred to the shelter when it opened, staying at Bonell for 51 weeks. While there, he worked with Veterans Affairs and Volunteers of America to secure a housing voucher.

On his 75th birthday, Stan moved into permanent housing, continuing to receive help from the United Way and other community partners as he reconnected with friends and family.

City Manager Raymond Lee III told city council that the city wants to stop reaching homeless populations through the police and start using city staff or possibly United Way partners. The city is in the early stages of developing a long-term approach to homelessness, working with a consultant to gather community feedback.

“Our nonprofit partners, neighboring municipalities, county and city currently provide programs and facilities to address homelessness in Greeley, but we need to engage the community on longer-term solutions,” said Lee in a city press release. “I encourage everyone to join the upcoming Community Conversations to share your ideas and thoughts on this important community issue.”

City officials are encouraging those unable to attend the scheduled forums to go to greeleygov.com/homelessandhousingservices, where video recording, presentation materials and an opportunity to provide feedback will be available after Feb. 23.

The city has contracted with Urbanity Advisors to assess possible accommodation and housing alternatives, which requires analyzing what could drive local and regional demand, estimating the costs of potential solutions and making recommendations and describe financial feasibility, financing options and key next steps.

Officials expect the assessment to take about six months.

— The NoCo Optimist contributed to this report.

Harry L. Blanchard