Solving Homelessness In Colorado
SHIC's mission is to challenge the people of Colorado to do better in approaching the homelessness crisis, by identifying the best ways we can do better, and then facilitating those actions and empowering the community in practicing them.
SHIC is a loose organization of community members, from inside and outside Colorado, housed and unhoused, who care about seeing homelessness approached differently. We started out as a Facebook group in the wake of 2019 Denver Initiative 300 and the incredibly valuable public dialogue it forced. Now, we also publish on the SHIC Facebook Page, which we use as a vector for public education about homelessness, information about our activities, and our Faces of Homelessness series of personal stories (coming soon). You can also stay in touch with our work by signing up for our quarterly email newsletter.
We are working on broad-scale solutions to help improve the effectiveness of current homelessness outreach services, and to help increase the presence of such resources, along with undertaking a few original outreach endeavors of our own.
We’re now building on our overall plans (outlined below), and putting together task forces to address the many different layers that will make up our approach. Our plans are broad in scope, but our work is mostly in the form of connecting existing pieces of the puzzle, since much of the infrastructure to help people is already out there.
Our methods include:
Using the group as a coordination vehicle for volunteer task forces to address immediate, specific, simple needs
Bridging connections between established organizations/from organizations to their target service populations
Developing and proving business models that directly address the crisis in remunerative, scalable ways
Our central methodological philosophy is a focus on good practice. Even the most complicated of puzzles can be elegantly solved, once the solution-seeker understands the principles by which the puzzle operates, and lines up the pieces in just the right way. Our process as an organization is to aggregate research first, identify the simplest and most elegant set of moves that will align the pieces so that they’re relating to each other in the right ways, and then coordinate the movement so that everything is pushed into place in the right order and in as few moves as possible. Our organization is built on interlacing this foundational logical model with the simple utilitarian ethic of compassion, empathy, and supportiveness toward all people. By these powers combined, great changes will be made.
Let’s Do Better!
Show Your Support: Spread the Delta-Equals!
A "delta-equals", or a Delta sign over an equals sign, is used in math to declare that something is by definition consistently equal to something else. This makes it a perfect symbol for demonstrating solidarity with, and respect for, the many people who experience or have experienced homelessness.
Help show your support for the cause by copying or recreating this symbol anywhere you'd like to use it. To use the typed character, copy this: ≜ (It will appear differently in different fonts.)
Thank you for demonstrating your compassion!
Be Part of the Solution
We need volunteers.
The first task forces we’re filling out are:
a research team
a panel of law enforcement liaisons
a team to specialize in mental health and addiction issues and resources
a street team that will help both in promotions and in helping us reach the homeless population with information and an early wave of surveys
a team focused just on developing and strategizing those surveys
a group specializing in policy and political advocacy
— and several others after that. The goal is to have around 24-30 active volunteers putting in an average of 2-3 hours per month each by the end of 2019, as well as a broader supportive audience generally helping pay attention to and spread information about our work.
We particularly need supportive work from people with experience in areas such as law, law enforcement, research science, public health, social services, and nonprofit administration. We are very flexible and adaptable; commit only as much time as you feel comfortable with, and feel free to contribute your expertise in any form that you find convenient and manageable, from occasional private emails to hopping right on into our Slack workspace.
Altogether, 179,334 people voted on Initiative 300. If ~1% of them (1,793 people) were to commit 2 hours per month, then in one year, we could collectively put 43,032 hours into solving this puzzle! Jump into the conversation in our Facebook group, or by emailing SHICletsdobetter@gmail.com to reach out to our organizer directly and/or join the Slack workspace as a volunteer. Sign up for the quarterly SHIC email newsletter and/or follow the SHIC Facebook Page to stay in tune with future developments and need areas.
We need promotion.
Please help spread information about us. We need to build an audience quickly, so that we can reach as many people as possible who will be motivated to help move our work forward. It’s also essential that we can maximize our connections in every sector of society that interfaces with this issue. Ways to help build our audience include:
liking and/or sharing the SHIC Facebook Page
joining and/or sharing the SHIC Facebook group
signing up for and/or sharing our quarterly email list
— as well as using/passing out our soon-to-come SHIC sticky notes! Our very first paper promotion came about in the form of sticky notes with the Facebook group’s web address handwritten on them, and we’ve decided to continue in that tradition. Sticky notes and homeless people alike have inherent value, and can’t just be lightly brushed off or tossed away. Soon we’ll have a Google form set up and linked here where you can input your information and request some of our sticky notes, for use or distribution at your business or in your everyday life. For now, just email SHICletsdobetter@gmail.com if you’d like to jump on the list for our first wave of sticky note pads that will be passed out!
We need support.
Funding a batch of sticky notes is a great way to help; it’s direct and immediate, and easy. You can fund a batch for us to distribute through our usual channels (we currently use Vistaprint but are actively seeking a local printing partner to work with instead), or you can certainly cover costs for a batch that you’re already ordering from us for your own use/distribution.
Also, watch this space for some merch developments! As soon as we polish our rough-draft logo up a bit and/or get some volunteer work from some artists, we’ll be setting up shop on some internet storefront or other. Each purchase will help directly fund our work, and you’ll get some useful item that helps you spread the word about us at the same time. Follow the SHIC Facebook Page and/or sign up for our quarterly email newsletter if you’d like to hear about that down the road, rather than having to revisit this site for updates!
Essential Note: We are not a registered nonprofit, in any way or form. Donations to our cause are not tax-deductible. We are just a rapidly growing group of volunteers, from all walks of life and from inside and outside Colorado, who are invested in addressing this homelessness crisis and in helping to improve how homelessness is addressed everywhere.
The Puzzle Pieces
Meta Goals - Improving communication among the voting public, interorganizationally, and between outreach organizations and their targets. Examples include:
developing helpful generalized models/frameworks for approaching homelessness
refining and standardizing effective and educational terminology
bridging education/awareness gaps to correct the public perception of the homeless community
refining and standardizing data collection methods used by outreach organizations, and aggregating existing data and enacting studies of it
Urgent Needs - Elements of mitigating immediate health, safety, and day-to-day living concerns for the existing homeless population. Examples include:
researching/developing fast and efficient solutions, which can be implemented realistically and quickly by community action, for toilet access and hygiene considerations
standardization of humane, pragmatic, and ameliorative law enforcement practices
addressing the lack of efficiency/appropriateness in current resources for food access
examining, centralizing, and making accessible the existing resources for document replacement and mail services, as well as resources for internet and phone access; building new partnerships to broaden the availability of these resources
Future Objectives - Broader, more gradual structures the group can develop together over time, in order to address more specific and complex issues. Examples include:
developing and petitioning a set of ballot initiatives, in concert with and congruent with the other angles of community intervention we’re exploring and establishing
taking several in-depth angles on addressing social determinants of housedness, e.g.:
studying, broadening, improving, and spreading the practices applied by successful employer-based skills training and support programs targeted at the homeless population and other disadvantaged groups; build partnerships to increase the number of programs like this
developing, coordinating, modeling, and spreading models for efforts to connect disadvantaged people with vocational training; bridge partnerships between providers of vocational training and community-based organizations serving the homeless population
complete and execute a handful of interrelated business plans, involving providing skills training, employment, and housing to homeless individuals; these will set the precedent in the for-profit business world for how to be charitable and remunerative at the same time, thus having a fractally useful impact far outside the direct reach of these businesses
commit a task force to examining the addiction component, aggregating helpful research, improving public-facing education on the subject, and studying what need areas remain in that service niche, as well as studying what is working most effectively in the addiction rehabilitation field so that those principles can be transferred to rehabilitating the chronically homeless
commit a task force to examining the broader mental health component, with focus on service availability/access, unique last-mile considerations reducing the utilization of mental health services, and determining best methods to bridge interorganizational gaps so as to address these obstacles
addressing the info problem: centralize and promote an accessible, credible, well-updated resource site for those experiencing any kind of homelessness or related issue, with thoroughly expanded content that simplifies the information available and takes some of the intimidation out of the process of finding and utilizing aid resources
addressing the last-mile problem: specifically and directly examining the many factors that keep non-recalcitrant homeless individuals from identifying, pursuing, and completing existing aid processes
supporting, connecting, and facilitating grassroots housing efforts e.g. small living communities
improving healthcare education and access for the homeless population (which is, of course, part of my more long-term career plan already!)
If you have any interest in being part of any of the above, from just lurking in the group on Facebook to helping directly participate in any of the efforts I’m undertaking, then please reach out either in the Facebook group or by contacting me directly on any platform! We’d love to have you involved.
Why I Started SHIC
A Backstory by Emerald
I was first homeless on the streets of Denver in summer and fall of 2007. I slept on the grates behind the courthouse next to Civic Center park, and I stayed with friends in railyard tents and parking garage squats. I spent a few days in a rock fort under a bridge over the Platte. Then I lived for a few months at Urban Peak’s youth shelter, where I was fortunate to get my GED, as well as an apprenticeship that would become my first real trade once I left. It was an eye-opening set of experiences; I learned a great deal, and built some lifelong relationships.
In 2012, I entered a period of housing insecurity that would later be mixed with a lot of homelessness — sometimes in a tent in the mountains, sometimes in a car, sometimes on couches for a couple of weeks at a time — and once I had finally overcome a series of obstacles and begun saving effectively, medical issues abruptly disabled me out of my job in early 2018. It was only in the beginning of 2019 that I gained a grip on something shakily close to stability, and thus could begin to work more effectively and lucratively as well as plan my return to college.
My regaining of footholds fortuitously coincided with the eruption of public dialogue spurred by Initiative 300 on the May 2019 Denver ballot. In witnessing the veritable riot of pixels, I realized we as a community were being presented with a huge and important opportunity. So that we could channel the momentum of all this discourse, I created Solving Homelessness In Colorado: A Brainstorming Group on Facebook. We’ve enjoyed rapid early growth, and valuable contributions from a wide variety of people advocating their concerns, priorities, and ideas. All are welcome, and are encouraged to come participate!
I’ve been gathering information about all different facets of the issue, and pulling some of my old ideas out of the scrapbox, while we build our audience and centralize volunteers. I’m honored to be witnessing so many people not just expressing supportiveness, but also demonstrating it with real action! Thank you for your interest, and I’m excited to have your engagement with what we’re achieving. ≜