TRENDS Diary: Boulder Shelter for the Homeless

“It’s impossible to be ‘safer at home’ when you don’t have one.” — Boulder Shelter CEO

TRENDS Diary, a project of the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is a place for Boulder County residents of all ages to share personal experiences that relate to a pressing community need. The focus, for now, is on our shared need to connect and solve problems, despite the increased isolation we’re all experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dear TRENDS Diary,

The mission of the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless is to create avenues to stable housing for our community’s homeless adults, from a foundation of supportive and safe shelter. COVID-19 has challenged us to reexamine what it means to offer safe shelter. Are those experiencing homelessness safer living outside, or under our roof in a communal living configuration? What can we do to make the Shelter as safe as possible? What will we do if there is an outbreak of the virus in our building? How can we keep Shelter staff safe?

We are still learning the answers to these questions, but here is what we know today.

Our community is generous. Whether it is donating homemade masks, volunteering or sending financial contributions, our community has really stepped up during this crisis.

Our residents are resilient. Adding a virus outbreak to the considerable challenges of experiencing homelessness has not stopped our residents from their amazing ability to meet each day with optimism.

Shelter employees are inspiring. Like healthcare workers and first responders, Shelter staff continue to take considerable personal risks to serve those in need. From March 15th to July 31st, they were able to ensure that the Shelter remained open every night—zero COVID related closures.

Here is a little of what was accomplished in that time:

Coordinated Entry Assessments Completed: 286

Bed Nights Provided: 14,160

Meals Served: 28,489

Hotel Sheltering Nights for our Most Vulnerable Residents: 1,436

Referrals to COVID Recovery Center: 35

COVID has amplified our belief that stable housing is the only real answer to homelessness. Everyone needs a reliable place to avoid possible virus exposure. It is impossible to be “Safer at Home” when you don’t have one.

– Greg Harms, CEO, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless