Denver’s Better Way to Battle Homelessness

Few social ills are more tragic than homelessness, and it’s even worse when families with children are the victims. It is a problem of almost unimaginable complexity, making it easy to conclude that it’s simply intractable. But one program is proving that this scourge can be overcome — and save taxpayers money in the process. Denver’s Road Home was launched in 2005 with the goal of eliminating homelessness in the city in 10 years. The ambitious program is a joint effort involving the city, the local United Way chapter, businesses, individual volunteers and more than 20 foundations and 250 religious congregations.  By 2009, the program had raised more than $45 million to support its efforts. Programming balances support and compassion with an expectation of self-reliance, and every goal that DRH funds can be quantified and measured.  Effectively moving people from dependence to dignity requires a response that is as multifaceted as the problem itself. Many of the 450 U.S. jurisdictions with programs designed to win the battle against homelessness would do well to take a close look at what Denver’s Road Home has accomplished.



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