Denver mayor seeks more volunteers to work with homeless
December 26, 2005
DENVER – Mayor John Hickenlooper is looking for more religious congregations to become mentors for homeless families and seniors as part of his 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city.Hickenlooper will look for volunteer teams of two to six people during a Jan. 10 luncheon.Forty-five families and seniors have mentors. The goal the first year is to mentor 100 families or individuals.Already, 172 people from 89 Denver-area religious congregations out of about 1,000 have pledged support in time and money.”The mentoring program is about long-term outcomes and solutions to homelessness,” said Roxane White, chairwoman of the Denver Commission to End Homelessness. “Mentoring helps break the cycle of homelessness.”The commission is charged with figuring out a way to end homelessness within 10 years. The plan, which took effect July 1, focuses on getting the so-called “chronically homeless” into housing so they can get help with mental health and substance abuse as well as helping families pay their rent or get enough money together to sign a lease.To reach the goals, Hickenlooper has challenged every church, synagogue, mosque and place of worship to work with at least one homeless family.Mentors provide financial advice, material and other support and help guide their charges toward reaching their goals. The team is also asked to provide up to $1,200 for rent and other needs.The city contributes $1,200 in federal funds for each family or senior.Mentors are prohibited from trying to convert religiously the people they work with.A recent survey found that about 4 percent of Denver’s homeless are seniors and 43 percent are women and children.Cities and counties nationwide are developing 10-year plans to reduce homelessness.