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.