While homeless services have been provided in Boulder County for the past several decades, efforts to address homelessness from the perspective of planning, coordinating and leverage resources, and evaluation have not occurred until two recent and separate strategic planning processes. In 2008 the County developed a five-year Human Services Strategic Plan with the participation of representatives from county and municipal agencies, commissioners, funders, the non-profit and faith communities and local residents. The planning effort took a comprehensive view of the human service system with the intention of developing a “dynamic, accessible, coordinated community-wide human service delivery system.” Completed in 2008, the Boulder County Human Services Strategic Plan includes a number of goals and strategies that address homelessness including the provision of housing opportunities, basic needs services, case management support and measures designed to prevent homelessness with at-risk populations.
In Longmont, a homeless planning process was implemented in 2000 under the direction of the Longmont Housing Opportunities Team (LHOT). This effort included 50 members representing government, social services, shelters, housing providers, domestic violence agencies, police, mental health, school district, banks, youth and senior services, churches, businesses, recovery programs, and private individuals. The mission of LHOT is to eliminate homelessness in the Longmont area using a Housing First approach, with the provision of supportive services and other housing activities that maximize the effectiveness of the agencies and mobilize community residents that assist the homeless. The efforts of this group culminated in 2009 with an adopted plan to end homelessness in Longmont.
In June 2009, a decision was made to support a process that would build upon and expand these efforts with the aim of developing a single, comprehensive plan to end homelessness in the County. This planning process was implemented through two primary groups. First, a Leadership Team was created and included three primary staff: Robin Bohannan, Director of the Boulder County Community Service Department; Karen Rahn, Director of the Department of Housing and Human Services for the City of Boulder; and Karen Roney, Community Services Director for the City Of Longmont. The cities of Boulder and Longmont comprise the majority of homeless individuals and families in the County, and the Boulder County Community Services Department plays a key role in managing County services for the homeless. This Leadership Team developed meeting agenda, facilitated meetings and guided the overall planning process.
Secondly, a group of individuals from across the county who work with the homeless were invited to participate on an Advisory Committee. This committee, comprising non-profit and government service representatives met monthly with the Leadership Team to help develop plan contents. Joint meetings of the Leadership Team and Advisory Committee were supported through facilitation and consultation from the OMNI Institute, a non-profit social research firm, and the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University.
By design, the planning process was scheduled to be completed over a six month period. While this was viewed to be an aggressive schedule, it was felt that a great deal of work had already been accomplished through previous homeless planning efforts in the county and that many ideas and lessons could be drawn from other 10-year plans. Moreover, all partners agreed that the planning process would never truly be completed since ideas and opportunities will continue to evolve. Therefore, this plan serves as a first, best starting point, and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. The first draft of the Boulder County 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was completed in April, 2010.