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Homeless Gear Issues Statement on “Transient” Population, Supply Distribution

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Homeless Gear Issues Statement on “Transient” Population, Supply Distribution

Fort Collins, Colorado, July 5, 2017

In the wake of the recent, tragic death of Helena Hoffmann and the subsequent arrest of the alleged perpetrator—a man who self-identified as “transient”—several local news outlets published stories on the broader topics of homelessness and transience. In the context of Homeless Gear, sources raised questions about our processes for collecting and distributing gear—and, more specifically, whether those processes were at least partly to blame for the recent increase of people identifying or identified as transients in Fort Collins, and the associated increase of disruptive behaviors throughout the City.

We are horrified and saddened by the heinous crime that prompted this community-wide discussion, and our thoughts are with the Hoffmann family. The community deserves our responses, and it is our sincere hope that this letter provides some clarity.

  • The Distribution program is one of six Homeless Gear programs (not including the Murphy Center, which is an initiative of Homeless Gear) that, collectively, provide a continuum of services to people experiencing homelessness—everything from basic-needs assistance to help obtaining and retaining employment and housing. We distribute supplies in the context of that continuum, and we do it because survival is both an important cause in-and-of-itself and a prerequisite to everything else: a person must survive homelessness in order to escape it.
  • We have long done what many are now calling on us to do: differentiate between our local community of people who are homeless and those who are just passing through. We do not distribute gear, by-and-large, to the traveler population—a policy we implemented years ago precisely to discourage abuse of our services.
  • Homeless Gear distributes the vast majority of our gear (in Fort Collins) through two outlets: a Gear Room at the Murphy Center and a Street Outreach vehicle. We only distribute high-value gear items (tents, backpacks, footwear) through the Gear Room. The Gear Room is only accessible to registered guests of the Murphy Center, and guests who are simply passing through—determined as part of our intake process—do not have access to supplies. Supplies are limited according to living situation (housed, homeless outdoors, homeless in a shelter or vehicle, etc.), time of year (for example, we only distribute sleeping bags and other winter items from October through April), quantity and frequency. Abusers can be banned from the Gear Room, and some have been.

None of this is to deny the fundamental truth, expressed by virtually every segment of this community, that some people who are traveling through Fort Collins do cause problems—particularly in the downtown area, but throughout the rest of the City too. We believe that we are in a unique position to address the problem.

That is why, beginning more than two years ago, we began investing our time in solutions. We were a part of the task force that conceptualized and eventually launched Outreach Fort Collins (our Executive Director now sits on the Board of Directors), a daytime street-outreach program that seeks both to connect with people in need and respond to disruptive behaviors in the downtown area. We have participated in community conversations, spoken with business and other community leaders, toured the natural areas and participated in clean-ups, evaluated and adjusted our programs and sought feedback at every turn.

The work is nowhere near complete, but we are proud to be a part of it.

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Homeless Gear Hosts Capacity Crowd for Seventh-Annual Fundraiser

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Homeless Gear Thanks Sponsors as it Surpasses Fundraising Goals, Hosts Capacity Crowd at Seventh-Annual Fundraiser, Toast to Transitions

Fort Collins, Colorado, June 15, 2017

Homeless Gear hosted nearly 300 individuals at its seventh-annual fundraiser this Saturday, exceeding its fundraising goals and sharing thanks with the thousands of individuals who contribute to the organization each year.

The event, Toast to Transitions, was held at the Preserve at Bingham Hill, owned by Randy and Sheryl Pope.

“Homeless Gear extends its sincerest gratitude to the dozens of individuals and companies who sponsored the event, and the hundreds of individuals and families who attended this weekend,” said David Rout, Homeless Gear’s Executive Director. “We are proud to say that—thanks to our amazing donors and sponsors—we raised about 2500 percent of what we spent on this event.”

Photos from the event can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/homelessgear/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154429478437130

For more information on our event sponsors, visit here: http://www.homelessgear.org/events

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Homeless Gear Introduces New Survival Programs Manager

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Homeless Gear Introduces Travis Garrison as Survival Programs Manager

Fort Collins, Colorado, June 1, 2017:

Homeless Gear is proud to announce that Travis Garrison has joined the staff as Survival Programs Manager. Travis replaces Kate Finch, a former Homeless Gear intern and staff member, who will return to school this summer to earn her Masters in Social Work.

Travis will manage Homeless Gear’s Distribution and Children in Need programs and oversee logistics related to the receipt, handling and distribution of product for all Homeless Gear programs and the Murphy Center initiative.

“We are sad to see Kate go, but we are grateful for everything that she did as an intern and staff member, and we expect wonderful things from her in the future,” said David Rout, Homeless Gear’s Executive Director. “That said, we are excited to have Travis on board, and we are optimistic that the transition will be seamless.”

Kate will remain with Homeless Gear in a training capacity until June 15th.

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Murphy Center Records 250,000th Guest Interaction

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Murphy Center Records 250,000th Guest Interaction, Reaching Milestone after Eight Years of Operations

Fort Collins, Colorado, May 20, 2017:

The Murphy Center recorded its 250,000th guest interaction last month, reaching the quarter-million-guest milestone after about eight years of operations. The total comprises thousands of unduplicated individuals, including 3,185 in 2016 (Homeless Gear’s first year as Manager of the building).

The Murphy Center opened in February 2009; it was expected to serve 30 to 50 individuals per day. That estimate quickly proved low, as the building served about 80 individuals per day in its first year. Today, the Murphy Center serves about 160 people each day.

“This is a bittersweet milestone,” said David Rout, Homeless Gear’s Executive Director. “It is a testament to the thousands of individuals who have donated their time, talent, product, money and influence to the Murphy Center and a confirmation that thousands of people have accessed much-needed services, but it is also a sad and stark reminder of the scope of homelessness in our community.”

Homeless Gear, as part of a broad community collaborative, became the Managing Partner of the Murphy Center in 2016. The Murphy Center became an initiative of Homeless Gear at the start of 2017.

ABOUT THE MURPHY CENTER

Named in honor of Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a Larimer County pioneer of service to neighbors in need, the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope celebrates compassionate action and serves as a resource center for families and individuals who face homelessness. The Murphy Center opened in 2009 and has proven to be a model for community collaboration and an essential resource in Larimer County. More information is available at www.murphycenter.org.

Homeless Gear Serves 100 Families at Children in Need Event

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Homeless Gear Serves 100 Families, 301 Children at Quarterly Event—Local Youth Group Hosts Carnival in Conjunction with Event

Fort Collins, Colorado, May 8, 2017:

Homeless Gear served 100 families and 301 children at its quarterly Children in Need service event this weekend, partnering with a local youth group—NoCo Youth Corps—to host a simultaneous carnival and barbeque. An additional thirteen agencies, organizations and programs joined Homeless Gear at the event (held at and in partnership with the Matthews House Community Life Center) to provide dental screenings, distribute children’s books, repair bikes and more.

The carnival and barbeque included more than a dozen games (with associated prizes), fresh food, an inflatable slide and more. Attendees also received coupons for shaved ice at Kona Ice.

“This is the second time that the amazing youth at NoCo Youth Corps organized and hosted a carnival in conjunction with our Children in Need event, and we continue to be amazed by their attention to detail and the scope of what they can accomplish,” said Linda Nuss, Homeless Gear’s Program Director. “These events are, historically, about providing important supplies and services to families in need, but we also hope to infuse a sense of normalcy and optimism into the children and families we serve—this carnival fits nicely into that mission.”

Families received 350 coats and sweatshirts, 120 pairs of footwear and thousands of units of clothing, hygiene items, underwear, socks and more.

More than 100 volunteers participated in the event, serving as “personal shoppers” for every attending family.

ABOUT CHILDREN IN NEED

The Children in Need program infuses a sense of normalcy, self-worth and optimism into the lives of children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Homeless Gear launched the program in 2009 after several PSD employees reported a significant need for supplies and other services among local families facing homelessness.

Today, the program revolves largely around quarterly service events for children and families. Homeless Gear distributes supplies and other agencies/programs attend to provide a wide range of services: haircuts, health screenings, service referrals and more. The program has served more than 1,000 families since inception.

Visit www.HomelessGear.org/children-in-need to learn more.

Homeless Gear Celebrates Nine-Year Anniversary

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Homeless Gear Celebrates Nine-Year Anniversary

Fort Collins, Colorado, May 1, 2017

Homeless Gear today celebrated its ninth birthday. For more information, please view the following newsletter: http://conta.cc/2pqdFEz

Story from the Source, April 27, 2017

A powerful testimonial from a participant in our One Village One Family program: http://conta.cc/2qaWIMN

Hand Up Celebrates 800-Job Milestone

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Hand Up Celebrates 800th Hire Since Inception after Program Participants Secure Record 52 Jobs During First Quarter of 2017

Fort Collins, Colorado, April 15, 2017:

Homeless Gear’s Hand Up program this week recorded its 800th job placement, less than a decade after the program was launched (in 2008) and just four years after it eclipsed the 200-job mark. The 800-job milestone came on the heels of a record first quarter in which participants secured 52 jobs—an 18 percent increase over the same period in 2016 and the highest three-month total in the program’s history.

Program participants obtained 170 jobs during the five-year period from 2008 through 2012. In the four-and-one-quarter years that followed (through March 2017), it helped secure more than 600 jobs.

“This is a milestone that speaks for itself,” said Linda Nuss, Homeless Gear’s Program Director. “It says, simply, that the people we serve are rich with talent and potential, and the businesses with whom we partner are invested in the community—we are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two.”

The Hand Up program served 236 individuals during the first quarter of 2017. Of the 52 jobs secured, 42 were full-time (10 part-time), and the average wage was $11.50 per hour. Recent data suggests that 62 percent of successful program participants retain employment after six months.

ABOUT HAND UP

Homeless Gear’s Hand Up program empowers job-seekers who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless to find and maintain employment. The program was launched in 2008 by Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a longtime advocate for people who are homeless, and Andy Troccoli, an employee of New Belgium Brewing Company. The program operated as an independent nonprofit until it merged with Homeless Gear in late 2012.

For more information, visit www.HomelessGear.org/Hand-Up.

One Village One Family Program Receives Realities for Children Award

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Homeless Gear’s One Village One Family Program Receives Realities for Children Affiliate Youth Agency of the Year Award

Fort Collins, Colorado, April 8, 2017:

Homeless Gear’s One Village One Family program today received the Realities for Children Affiliate Youth Agency of the Year Award, accepting the award at Realities for Children’s annual Triumph Awards Gala.

 “It is a tremendous honor to simply be one of 31 Realities for Children affiliate agencies,” said Linda Nuss, Homeless Gear’s Program Director and Kortney Campbell, One Village One Family Program Manager. “We are proud to work alongside Realities for Children and all of its affiliates, and we are grateful for and humbled by this award.”

To learn more about Realities for Children, visit https://realitiesforchildren.com/.

ABOUT ONE VILLAGE ONE FAMILY

OVOF is one of a small number of rapid rehousing programs in Fort Collins. It was modeled after a similar program in Denver, One Congregation One Family, that was launched out of then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s office in 2016. Statewide, the program’s offshoots have helped more than 1,000 families escape homelessness.

For more information on the program, visit www.HomelessGear.org/OVOF.

Mark Brewer Nominated for Volunteer Hero Award

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Mark Brewer, Founder of Homeless Gear’s Bike-Repair Program, Earns Nomination for United Way’s Volunteer Hero Award

Fort Collins, Colorado, April 5, 2017:

Mark Brewer, a volunteer who conceptualized and launched—and continues to oversee—Homeless Gear’s Bike Program, is a finalist for United Way’s Volunteer Hero Awards.

Read more about Mark and the Bike program, and vote here: https://uwaylc.org/Post/Volunteer-Hero-Awards-Finalists-Basic-Needs-Category

ABOUT THE BIKE PROGRAM

Homeless Gear’s Bike program hosts a free bike-repair clinic every Friday, 3 PM to 5 PM, at the Murphy Center (242 Conifer Street in Fort Collins). The service is available to any registered guests of the Murphy Center. The bike-repair team also hosts repair clinics at off-site locations. 

For more information and/or to get involved, visit www.HomelessGear.org/Bike

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