Reporter-Herald – By The Rev. Steve Goodier, Pastor Randy Short, The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph and the Rev. Erin Gilmore

We have an opportunity to house the homeless and encourage self-sufficiency.

As members of the faith community in Northern Colorado, we believe that how our community treats our most vulnerable people is a reflection of our community as a whole. Colorado’s economy is thriving, and we are among the top 10 states that Americans desire to live and work in. At the same time, a growing number of Coloradans are homeless or on the verge of experiencing homelessness.

The need for housing and related services is growing rapidly in our state. There are veterans, seniors, and families among us that do not have access to the services they desperately need — not just a roof over their heads, but treatment, job training and behavioral health assistance. Many of them are relying on our most expensive emergency services like jails and detox, while sleeping on the streets and in our parks.

This year, a budget proposal for $16.3 million has been presented to the state legislature requesting to use new state marijuana sales tax revenue to create transitional housing units and supportive services for the chronically homeless. This would provide essential services for them and will also save taxpayer dollars by avoiding rising emergency services and incarceration costs.

Not only are these services expensive, they do little to help people transition into a new season of life. If passed, this initiative will expend $28 per day for each person served. By comparison, many of these people would otherwise end up in state mental hospitals or prisons, costing the taxpayer approximately $665 at the state hospital or $56 in prison per day.

In addition to saving money for taxpayers, we believe that providing housing and support for the homeless is simply the right thing to do. As members of the faith community, we are committed to surrounding our most vulnerable neighbors with the support they need to be productive members of our state.

We have an opportunity provide new facilities and valuable services for individuals who desperately need them. A failure to do this would be a loss for them and for our state as a whole.

This is a chance to make a tangible difference, to build a healthier community, and to spend our resources more effectively.

We hope that our public officials agree and vote to provide housing, jobs, and services for our most vulnerable neighbors.

The Rev. Steve Goodier serves First United Methodist Church; Pastor Randy Short serves Trinity United Methodist Church; The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph serves Plymouth Congregational UCC and the Rev. Erin Gilmore serves First Congregational Church, UCC.

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