Samaritan House and Denver Rescue Mission urge ‘no’ vote on Initiative 300

Top shelters in Denver urge real solutions to homelessness

Denver Catholic Staff

Samaritan House joins Denver Rescue Mission in urging a ‘no’ vote on Initiative 300 on the Denver ballot. Instead, civic efforts should focus on providing services to those experiencing homelessness that help them thrive and not simply survive.

“We want people to come off the street so we can provide them with a safe place to sleep, a hot meal and renewed hope at Samaritan House and Samaritan House Women’s Emergency Shelter,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of Shelters Services for Catholic Charities. “Our shelters offer dignified and safe options for those without a home. We are equipped to continue to provide services for them to not simply survive but to thrive.”

Initiative 300, also called “Right to Survive” by proponents, would propose significant service challenges, risking the safety and well-being of shelter residents, including families and children, as well as staff of Samaritan House, and of Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter and Community Center. Samaritan House, at 2301 Lawrence St., and the Denver Rescue Mission work in close proximity.

“At our very core, we want to help the most vulnerable people in our community. That’s what the Mission’s done for the past 127 years and will continue to do for years to come,” Brad Meuli, President and CEO of Denver Rescue Mission, said. “If you live in Denver, please vote ‘No’ on Initiative 300 and wherever you live please help us by volunteering, donating, or simply engaging in conversations with city officials and others in our community to work on the complicated issue of homelessness. I want to see people experiencing homelessness get the help they need, that’s why Denver Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities are here.”

Initiative 300 would overturn Denver’s urban camping ban. During periods of camping outside both shelters, providers saw an increased presence of police addressing illegal activity and sanitary issues. Samaritan House specifically saw a rise in reports from shelter residents about their children’s safety around the premises. The leadership of Samaritan House and Denver Rescue Mission warn that the passage of Initiative 300 would usher in the following risks and difficulties:

  • Increased health risks to men, women and children utilizing the shelters and staff due to unsanitary environments and illegal drug activity
  • Impede front line staffs’ ability to offer outreach to those living on the streets, including possible legal consequences for offering assistance
  • Hurt efforts to provide crucial services to men, women, and children who face the dangers of living on the street

In 2018, Denver Rescue Mission provided more than 907,000 meals and 400,500 nights of shelter. Last year, 686 of its downtown Denver guests chose to enroll in a life-changing Mission program or service—including the New Life Program. One year after graduation, 91 percent of the Mission’s New Life Program graduates maintain their housing.

Catholic Charities of Denver provided 202,730 nights in emergency and transitional shelter, and 992,070 nights in affordable housing in fiscal year 2017-2018. After completing the Samaritan House extended stay program, 92 percent of men and women 96 percent of families were discharged with income. Through its unique continuum of care model, which addresses each family or individual’s unique needs at every age and stage of life, Catholic Charities provides shelter, affordable housing, early childhood education, counseling, emergency services, food and clothing, senior services and more.

The Denver Homeless Leadership Council, a coalition of service providers that includes Catholic Charities and the Denver Rescue Mission, also recently released a statement on March 6, 2019 about Initiative 300, available here.

About Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver

Catholic Charities has served the Denver community since 1927 and now serves tens of thousands of people each year throughout northern Colorado in seven ministries: Marisol Services; Early Childhood Education; Shelter Services; Archdiocesan Housing; St. Raphael Counseling; Family, Kinship, and Senior Services; and Community Services. Catholic Charities serves those in need with the help of hundreds of volunteers and through collaboration with Catholic parishes, other churches, local businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, medical facilities and educational institutions. Learn more at ccdenver.org.

About Denver Rescue Mission

Since 1892, Denver Rescue Mission has been meeting the needs of the poor and homeless through emergency services, rehabilitation, transitional programs and community outreach. For more information visit, DenverRescueMission.org.

COMING UP: Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Late-term abortion ban reaches signature goal

Volunteers gathered nearly 50,000 signatures for Initiative 120 within two-week cure period

Aaron Lambert

In a final push, supporters of the initiative seeking to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

During a two-week cure period granted after falling short of required signatures to get Initiative 120 on the ballot, over 400 volunteers worked diligently and collected over 48,000 signatures by May 28, nearly three times the amount sought during the cure period. The Due Date Too Late campaign spearheaded the charge to gather signatures with support from Catholic Charities’ Respect Life Office and other pro-life communities across the state.

“I am overjoyed to hear that so many Coloradans have signed the petition to successfully place Initiative 120 on the November ballot,” said Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who expressed his support for the initiative early on. “Protecting children in the womb is an essential part of building a society that treats all life, no matter its age or ability, as sacred. God has given each person a dignity that comes from being made in his image and likeness, and the degree to which our laws reflect that will be the degree to which we experience true freedom and happiness.”

Initiative 120 would prohibit abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks, with an exception for the life of the mother. According to a recent Gallup poll, 74% of Americans believe that there should be limitations on late term abortion. Due Date Too Late submitted the bulk of the needed petition signatures in March but fell short 10,000 signatures after review by the Secretary of State. The cure period began on May 15, with Due Date Too Late needing to collect those 10,000 additional verified signatures of registered Colorado voters during the 15-day cure period to meet the 124,632 threshold and qualify for the November ballot.

“We are thrilled to take this next step towards protecting lives in Colorado by exceeding our goal of signatures we are turning into the Secretary of State,” said Lauren Castillo, spokesperson for the Due Date Too Late campaign. “We are thankful to have this opportunity to work together with communities across the entire state of Colorado. The hundreds of volunteers we have who are so passionate about ending late-term abortion are helping to make this a reality.”

Due Date Too Late will be turning in the notarized packets containing almost 50,000 signatures on May 29 at 2 p.m. to the office of the Secretary of State to assure that the ballot initiative will meet the statutory threshold.

The field collection effort by Due Date Too Late went forward amid a recent executive order by Gov. Jared Polis regarding how petition signatures may be collected. Under Gov. Polis’ order, he declared that ballot initiatives could gather signatures electronically in response to the coronavirus pandemic; however, Initiative 120 was the only ballot initiative that wasn’t allowed to collect signatures electronically because it was in a cure period.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated over 30,000 signatures were being turned in, based on the information that was available at the time of publication. The actual number is closer to 50,000. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.