The Catholic Outreach Day Center doesn't allow kids, since some of the homeless there are convicted sexual offenders. "Those children have no place. Where do they go to keep them warm?" asks Dolores Roberts, of Joining Hands, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk children.
- The Salvation Army had heretofore not been an active participant in recent efforts to identify, leverage, and involve stakeholders in the effort to combat homelessness in a coordinated fashion. This includes efforts such as the Grand Valley Coalition for the Homeless and Beyond Charity.
The availability of a facility such as their headquarters for this purpose brought reactions of surprise from some of those involved in coordinating services for the homeless; this is perhaps an indication of the truly diverse nature of the resources available in our community, as well as difficulties with perceptions and assumptions that sometimes get in the way. One person involved stated that they thought the Salvation Army was affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. This is not the case.
- This was accomplished largely through the efforts of advocacy groups that are very new in terms of the length of their existence as stakeholders in the provision of services to the homeless. Jacob Richards and Eric Niederkruger of Housing First! No More Deaths! (HFNMD) both cited the efforts of Angel Light and Joining Hands, along with their group, as instrumental in putting this issue into the public eye through a combination of direct action and publicity, until the right eyes saw the story.
These organizations have at their core people who have been homeless, and while not possessing all the trappings of a board-governed, social science and public policy-steeped sustainable non-profit, are nonetheless accomplishing things that more traditional approaches are not.
- The existence of the HOT initiative in Grand Junction would likely not have been considered, approved or implemented had this past summer's questionable enforcement activities in homeless camps not been reported and acted upon.
- The primary focus of the Colorado Springs HOT was the relocation of hundreds of homeless persons camped along creek beds or underneath overpasses, in response to a city-wide ban on camping. It would be safe to assume that one of the initial projects for Grand Junction's HOT officers will be outreach to those camping by the river and elsewhere, perhaps in preparation for more direct police action with those campsites as warmer weather arrives.
- A Colorado Springs HOT officer was quoted in at least two online stories stating that despite the continued presence of people camping, they have only issued written warnings thus far. Another report stated that only the HOT officers can issue tickets for violation of the camping ordinance.
- The recent death of a transient camped near a transient camp known as "The Point" is perhaps an example of where a HOT presence can assist in identifying and assisting those who are in need, before the circumstances that brought them to homelessness catch up with them.
- This also raises questions about those who are homeless by choice, and eschew assistance. Given that a good portion of the local riverfront is not in the city limits, is there a potential issue with contact and/or enforcement when there is transient camping on unincorporated land?