Daily Camera – by Alex Burness

Service providers Bridge House and Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow have merged.

The merger was effective Jan. 1, a news release stated. Bridge House has absorbed Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow — better known as BOHO.

It’s been about nine months since BOHO last operated the programs it was best known for. The organization previously had contracts with the city and county for overnight sheltering and daytime warming centers for the homeless, but the funding for those efforts was terminated when local governments switched to a new “coordinated entry” model of services to the homeless, which de-prioritized the kinds of emergency services BOHO offered.

For many years, the two organizations also co-operated on a day shelter at a church annex downtown. That program closed in November 2016.

But even after the new system turned over midway through last year, BOHO’s 501(c)(3) and board of directors remained active, and BOHO staff has in fact worked with Bridge House on the “Path to Home” program, which is at the center of the new system of services.

“What is changing is basically from an organizational structure,” Bridge House Executive Director Isabel McDevitt said. “We’re intentionally using the word ‘merger’ because it really reflects the partnership, but it’s the Bridge House entity that remains, and the Bridge House name. The spirit of the partnership is a merger.”

In recent years, local service providers had kicked around the idea of such a merger, perhaps on a larger scale that would have included these two organizations plus the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. The Boulder Homeless Service Collaborative, as it was called, dissolved in 2016 after four years of talks.

Now, though, two of the three main service providers involved with that defunct collaborative are one.

“We’ve been moving in this direction for four years now,” said Bill Sweeney, the BOHO chair who will assume a new role in Bridge House’s administration.

“There simply isn’t space to have too many primary agencies in this area. Frankly, I think one would be the best, but combining our two agencies was easy, and it made a lot of sense.”

No new programs or changes that will significantly affect homeless services will result, for now, from this merger, McDevitt said.

Sweeney called the merger “anti-climactic” because the two organizations have done so much programming together that they were all but merged already.

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