A longtime Organizational Member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is the main provider of health care, housing, and support services to Coloradans experiencing homelessness. Like many cities across the U.S., Denver’s affordable housing is lagging behind its rapid population growth, contributing to the rise of homelessness in the city. The Denver-based Coalition employs 600 individuals system-wide who are dedicated to eradicating homelessness and improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations throughout the state.
A Distinguished History of Homeless Services
Founded in 1984, the Coalition owns and operates over 2,000 individual housing units and administers approximately 1,000 supportive housing vouchers. The summer of 2018 will bring the opening of the Renaissance Downtown Denver Loft, the Coalition’s nineteenth housing facility featuring 100 single units with on-site case management. This permanent supportive housing facility is dedicated to participants of the Denver Social Impact Bond, a partnership with the city and private investors that aims to house 250 Denverites who are chronically homeless and frequent users of city services. Realizing the importance of maintaining community connections, the Coalition strives to provide housing in the communities where people without homes work, receive health care, go to school, and may already have support systems in place.
Housing is health care, and CCH’s mission goes well beyond putting a roof over the heads of people without homes. The Coalition manages a network of five clinics that provided primary and behavioral health care services to nearly 13,500 individual patients last year. Under the leadership of John Parvensky, winner of the National HCH Council’s 2018 Philip W. Brickner National Leadership Award, the Coalition developed the Stout Street Health Center, the organization’s largest clinic. The West End Health Center provides care to clients on the west side of Denver, and two part-time clinics operate in local shelter facilities. A street outreach program with two mobile exam rooms travels to areas where people experiencing homelessness congregate. People suffering from addiction can find a safe and stably housed space at the Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community and obtain assistance integrating back into the community after program completion.
Integrated Care, Medical Respite, and Council Collaborations
Central to the mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is an integrated model of care that addresses the wide spectrum of health needs of people without homes. This model provides “whole person care” in the same clinic space, allowing primary and behavioral care providers to more easily communicate about the needs of patients. This facilitates positive health outcomes by acknowledging that the behavioral and physical health needs of people without homes are often intertwined. This type of care is “definitely the more innovative, comprehensive, and effective way to deliver care, especially to vulnerable populations,” says Cathy Alderman, CCH’s Vice President of Communications and Public Policy.
In keeping with the principles of integrated care, the Coalition is preparing to open a new 50-bed medical respite facility connected to the Stout Street Health Center. The proposed location will create a safe place for people experiencing homelessness to recover from inpatient hospital stays while receiving follow-up care. This new medical respite facility will expand the Coalition’s current respite program and address a critical need within Denver’s homeless population.
An Organizational Member of the National HCH Council since 2004, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is well-versed in the advantages of collaborations and resource sharing within the HCH community. As the Coalition’s Chief Operating Officer Lisa Thompson elaborates, “The unique needs and barriers to care faced by individuals experiencing homelessness require innovation and creative problem-solving. Consulting with colleagues from across the country who are doing similar work [through the Council] has been invaluable in terms of sharing best practices and enhancing our overall service delivery model.”
Learn more about the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Organizational Membership with the National HCH Council.