While the shelter system does incredible work with the resources it had, shelters are not a good fit for everyone experiencing houselessness. Some people choose to avoid staying in shelters for the following reasons:
Furthermore, many shelters do great work connecting people with more longterm housing, but shelters in and of themselves are not intended to be longterm housing solutions. Although shelter space is not equivalent to the longterm housing people need, we often cite providing enough emergency shelter space as the solution to houselessness. In reality, we need emergency shelter space AND more creative solutions that fit the unique needs of each neighbor experiencing houselessness and provide different paths to longterm housing. Some of the creative solutions presented below do not provide longterm housing either, but they provide our community with more tools in the toolbox to meet the varying needs of those experiencing houselessness.
Here in Denver, the Colorado Village Collaborative–in partnership with other organizations including the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Denver Homeless Out Loud, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and Mile High Ministries among others–is doing incredibly creative work to find solutions to unsheltered houselessness.
In partnership with Radian, “a nonprofit architecture and urban design group advancing social equity by redefining how places are designed and built,” the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado “launched the Congregation Land Campaign to activate the thousands of undeveloped acres owned by faith communities for attainable affordable-housing and other community benefits.”
Creatively making the most of the fact that some people experiencing houselessness have access to vehicles, the Colorado Safe Parking Initiative is a “citizen-led initiative to encourage safe, legal parking locations for individuals and families experiencing homelessness who are living in vehicles in Colorado’s Front Range communities.”
Community land trusts are a great way to maintain the affordability of housing in a particular area, and there are several organizations in Colorado doing great community land trust work.