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Denver Rescue Mission offers housing stability case management

Denver Rescue Mission continues to spread the warmth by getting individuals into permanent housing
Denver Rescue Mission continues to spread the warmth by getting individuals into permanent housing 02:10

Bringing people in out of the cold is only the beginning of addressing homelessness in Denver. CBS Colorado has partnered with the Denver Rescue Mission to Spread the Warmth, part of that effort is transitioning those who have been homeless back into permanent housing.


"Our goal is to ultimately lead them out of shelter and continue to offer support and set them up with those types of services that are going to continue to support them as they get into housing," said Julia South, a Next Step Case Manager at the 48th Avenue Shelter.

South works with clients to come up with an action plan that will get them into permanent housing. The case managers use a systematic navigation tool that lays out the plan step-by-step. Many people who've experienced homelessness have lost the vital documents they need to apply for income-based housing. They also need to establish an income and apply for other supports that will stabilize them, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

"We also want to look at the whole person, like people's behaviors, like their responses to boredom, they're responses to success. They're responses to failure. If we're not having conversations around that then no matter what boxes they check as far as having their vital documents and being connected with providers, it can derail all of that and land them back here," said Angie Tims, Associate Director of Housing Stability at the Denver Rescue Mission.

The 48th Avenue Center houses 515 men every day. Each client gets a permanent bed, so as long as they can follow the general rules and get back to the center by curfew every night, they're allowed to keep their bed as long as they need it. The role of the case manager is to make sure that no one gets anchored in the shelter.


"I think the stigma really needs to change. I think that's the biggest thing I've learned, that stereotypes of people experiencing homelessness are true, but they're not and it's a case-by-case scenario for each person," South said. "The common thing that I find between every client that I work with is that they just don't have a support system to help them."

The case managers become that support system along with Peer Navigators. Peer Navigators are graduates of the program that agree to come back and help those in the program. They've experienced homelessness and know how to navigate the situations one faces to get back into housing.

"What we see is that the peers really help have more of a stick-to-itiveness for our guests as they're going through that long haul, as they're in waiting stage, as they're not seeing outcomes that they want," Tims explained.

This service model helped 144 men transition into permanent housing last year.

"Being able to hold out hope for people and being able to communicate that you have value is what brings me life," Tims told CBS News Colorado.

"I love being able to build repour with people from totally different walks of life and backgrounds. And then on the flipside, seeing that progress they make over time and how they transform as individuals and seeing a sense of worth come back into them as well because this situation really beats down people a lot and it really tears at their self-esteem and their motivation. But to see that come back into somebody and see them make change over time is incredibly rewarding," South explained.


Les had to move out of his rental last October. He didn't have enough money saved to pay deposits and rent on a new place, so he ended up at the 48th Avenue Shelter. He's been working with a case manager. Les needs to find a job that will pay him a livable wage.

"I was a construction and factory workers for all of my life, and all of that is just out the window," Les said.

 He's a below-the-knee amputee, so he needs a job that can accommodate that.

"I have a secure bed. I have access to three meals a day and that allows me to be able to concentrate on other things like trying to find a way to find a livable income as an amputee," he explained.

Les hopes that with the help he gets at the 48th Avenue Shelter he'll have a new job and a new home within the next few months.

LINK: Spread the Warmth

You can support the work of the Denver Rescue Mission by making a donation to the Spread the Warmth campaign. 

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