Thank you for allowing me to join you by video as you celebrate the launch of the CLOSE TO HOME campaign. The goals of this campaign are important and timely. No one should suffer the devastation of homelessness, and it is particularly concerning that so many children in our state don’t have a safe place to call home. Over the past decade, we have seen a 300 percent increase in the number of school-aged children experiencing homelessness in Colorado – that’s more than 24,000 kids.
Children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of housing instability. Traumatic experiences and chronic stress permanently alter how the developing brain responds to stress, control’s behavior, holds memory, and learns. As early as nine months, achievement gaps arise. This gap widens quickly as children who experience homelessness age. And this early inequality sets the stage for intergenerational poverty.
Each episode of homelessness exacts very high costs on individuals and our society at large. Coloradans who lose their homes are at great risk of being pulled into a dangerous cycle of life on our streets, in our emergency rooms, and in the criminal justice system.
When we address the root causes of homelessness by ensuring access to housing, healthcare, education and supportive services, we lay the basic building blocks needed for those in crisis to find the stability they need to thrive.
This sounds complex – and it is – but it begins with a simple, critical step: We need more Coloradans to gain a better understanding of homelessness and raise their voices in support of efforts to make a meaningful difference.
We know from the polling that has been done by The Denver Foundation – and frankly by the conversations each of us has with our family, friends and co-workers – that Coloradans care about homelessness. The CLOSE TO HOME campaign offers a platform that makes it easier for each of us to get involved in simple, doable, and important ways.
I applaud the CLOSE TO HOME campaign for intentionally joining our voices together and changing the conversation about homelessness. By speaking up and showing compassion, we can become a community where everyone has a safe place to call home.