Did you know?
- The 2017-18 cold weather shelter served 363 unduplicated guests.
- Weld County was recently identified as the 4th most un-affordable housing market in the nation, and according to the US Census we already have a deficit of 3,866 units of affordable housing.
- In Weld County, 43 percent of renters and 24 percent of mortgage payers spend more than 35 percent of their income on housing, making them vulnerable to financial crisis.
- An individual has to work 80 hours a week at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Colorado.
The challenge of housing instability and homelessness is growing in Weld County, a region uniquely defined by its mix of urban and rural communities. Northern Colorado’s population is rapidly increasing—the Colorado state demographer predicts Weld County’s population will double by 2035. Weld County was recently identified as the 4th most un-affordable housing market in the nation, and according to the US Census we already have a deficit of 3,866 units of affordable housing.
The ever-increasing cost of housing combined with a job base that often does not pay a living wage is making more households unstable and at-risk of homelessness. In Weld County, 43% of renters and 24% of mortgage payers spend more than 35% of their income on housing, making them vulnerable to financial crisis. A recent survey of those experiencing homelessness found that 51% have been in Weld County their whole lives, suggesting that long-time residents experience homelessness.
Weld’s Way Home has founded a Housing Navigation Center (HNC) to help those experiencing homelessness regain housing and to prevent those at-risk of homelessness from losing their housing. Co-located with other nonprofits including North Colorado Health Alliance, Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado, and Sunrise Community Health Monfort Family Clinic (a federally funded community health center), the HNC:
- Diverts people from homelessness by helping them return to support networks and avoid the homeless services system;
- Assists people in getting back into permanent housing as quickly as possible;
- Helps people maintain their housing with supportive services;
- Connects those experiencing homelessness with mental/physical health care, non-emergency shelter, and other long-term resources;
- Provides essential services to help people survive homelessness (cold weather shelter, shower, laundry, mail collection, etc.); and
- Offers space to numerous homeless serving providers to connect with those they serve.
The HNC is part of a Weld County-wide Housing First strategy. Through the Housing First method, households regain housing and stability more quickly, get and keep employment, respond better to mental and physical health treatment, can manage chronic conditions, and more. Plus they stop over-utilizing the emergency department, eliminate law enforcement contacts, and don’t spend time in jail, saving taxpayer dollars. Helping homeless households regain stability (and preventing those on the cusp of homelessness avoid it) builds safe, prosperous, and vibrant communities.
Cody and Erin arrived at the cold weather shelter having recently lost their housing. Just a few months earlier, they had been on their way to buying their first home together. Then Erin had to quit her job to take care of her mother and when her mother passed away, Erin maxed out her credit card with funeral expenses. And then Cody got laid off for having a PTSD-related outburst at work. When they arrived at the cold weather shelter, they got a hot meal and were shown to where they’d sleep for the night. In the morning, they got connected to a case manager who helped them with job searching, housing options, and other assistance. Now, six months later, Cody and Erin are back on track and planning for their future.