A compassionate, realistic and proactive response
Homeless Coloradans need help; it’s an issue facing nearly all metro Denver communities. We need to show compassion and be ready to lend a helping hand. But our City’s residents, including families and businesses, deserve to feel safe in our community. We cannot afford to let this problem grow, or it will impact the safety and quality of life in our community.
Homelessness is not just Arvada’s problem; it knows no boundaries and affects our entire region. As Mayor, I have worked with the Jefferson County Community Resource Navigator and our neighboring cities, as well as through the Metro Mayors Caucus, to draw on wide-ranging resources to bring about a comprehensive, regional solution.
Here in Arvada, we have stepped up police presence to interact with the homeless and connect them with the resources they need most. Much of homelessness is related to addiction and mental health issues, so Arvada’s police and public safety net acts swiftly to direct the homeless to community-based services to help address their needs.
At the same time, we cannot allow lawlessness to jeopardize our quality of life. We will continue to offer a helping hand, with a firm resolve to ensure areas like Olde Town, parks and trails, schools, libraries and bus stops, among other public places, are safe for all Arvadans. No one should feel threatened by panhandling or disorderly behavior—our public spaces belong to all of us.
I firmly believe that Arvada should be a community in which all our citizens treat one another with respect and compassion—but where safety and quality of life are always maintained.
Homelessness: A regional, statewide and national issue
Homelessness is clearly not just an Arvada issue, but a regional, statewide and national issue. During my eight years as Mayor, and as Past President of the Colorado Municipal League, I have become very involved in the best practices to address issues of the homeless while addressing concerns of the community at large. I am proud of the work being done in Arvada through the use of social workers assisting our police officers who interact daily with our homeless population. We are being successful in connecting individuals who need assistance with the resources that are there to help them. On the other hand, we are dealing appropriately with those individuals who are a public safety risk to themselves or others. I want and expect Arvada to be a community that is safe for everyone.
On a county basis, we are developing a countywide Navigator Program to provide a city employee who will further help assist those who will accept and benefit from the various service providers in the nonprofit and faith-based communities. I have developed during my time as Mayor an excellent working relationship with our faith-based community and urged their involvement, which has led to their incredible participation in cold-weather shelters and other efforts. I constantly advocate for these types of partnerships because together we can achieve so much more than we can do on our own.
In my role as the incoming Chair of the Metro Mayors Caucus, I am forefront in the efforts throughout the region to better assess how we can avoid simply moving the homeless from community to community. Along with my fellow mayors who have selected me for leadership, we are raising funds for transitional housing, emergency housing and other long-term solutions to this troubling issue. The Metro Mayors Caucus has recognized the impact of opium addiction and mental health as contributors to the homeless issue and are addressing these issues head on. My leadership role in this organization is an asset to Arvada as we continue to look at best practices—locally, countywide and regionally.