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New navigation center in Jefferson County helping the Colorado homeless community

Jefferson County helps those experiencing homelessness with more resources this holiday season
Jefferson County helps those experiencing homelessness with more resources this holiday season 02:22

An expanded resource in Jefferson County is helping the homeless community because of a growing need. RecoveryWorks is a nonprofit organization that recently opened a new navigation center in Lakewood.

James Ginsburg is the executive director of the organization. He said according to the most recent Point in Time Count, the number of homeless people in Jefferson County is up 73% since last year, from 493 people to 854 people. Meanwhile, unsheltered homelessness increased by 65%, from 187 people to 473.


Plus, Jefferson County had the largest percentage increase of homeless in the metro region from 2022 to 2023.

That's one of the reasons why RecoveryWorks has expanded from a 1,500-square-foot space into a new 10,000-square-foot building at 8000 West Colfax Avenue.

For about two and a half years, the center provided services and respite care to unhoused people, in a much smaller space just blocks away. However, the new navigation center offers even more, including food, primary and behavioral healthcare, mental health and recovery resources, and case management.

"There is a lot of need in the community. There are not any shelters in Jefferson County," said Ginsburg. "It's really time to respond, and I think we have an opportunity to get out in front of this."


It's the only day shelter of its kind nearby and serves up to 80 people daily, and more than 300 people every year. The goal is to address homelessness at its roots and help people get into permanent housing.

"You don't need an appointment and you can receive services sort of on demand and get started on that sometimes long journey into permanent housing," said Ginsburg, who added he wants the navigation center to be a part of a regional solution to address homelessness.

Ginsburg also said the number of homeless seniors, ages 55 and up, in the county has gone up about 61% in the past two years, from 55 individuals to 145.

"So we're going in the wrong direction and we're working closely with Lakewood and the county to intervene," said Ginsburg.


"There isn't anything like this in the community, a one-stop shop we call it," said Regina Legron, who found herself homeless for years. "I've been homeless for nine years through three states, trying to get out of it."

Legron said she was a victim of identity theft, followed by other unfortunate events, that left her on the streets. Now, she works full-time as the housekeeper lead at the new navigation center.

Legron said the organization has helped her stay stable and hopeful, and she now has a place of her own.

"I just got my apartment last Friday," said Legron. "It's pretty exciting, nine years, that's how long it took."


Next year, RecoveryWorks hopes to convert the other half of the building into a 24/7 year-round shelter. 

The organization is also closing on a motel on Colfax soon that will be used for bridge housing. People will be able to stay at the bridge housing, until they can find more permanent housing.

Levering revenue from the state of Colorado, RecoveryWorks and the city of Lakewood relocated and expanded the existing drop-in and medical respite center.

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