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Navigating the System to Find a Place When Homeless

We see the people on the street corners with cardboard signs; we notice the tent cities in downtown areas and in the suburbs; we read about the "sweeps;" we vote to fund programs to help; we donate to local organizations serving the homeless; we make sandwiches for the homeless once a month. . . but, really, don't we all feel a little helpless when it comes to this problem?

One of our parishioners recently asked for help for a homeless man named Rod who is camping in his truck with an attached trailer. He is around 60 years old, disabled, unemployed and can't work, living on disability, wanting a small place to live. Rod had already received a list of resources and had been unsuccessful. People like him need more than a list--they need a connection with a social worker or friend to guide them through all the steps.

In short, here is what a social worker advises:

  • Google “CO housing authorities,” which will list open times for housing voucher lotteries for Denver, Aurora, Englewood, Lakewood, Littleton Housing Authorities.

  • Apply for housing voucher lotteries when those community’s lotteries are open (generally one has to be in Colorado for 90 days to be eligible).

  • If successful, the applicant will be able to apply for Section 8 housing.

  • If over 60, Google “senior subsidized housing buildings” and start applying for those buildings directly. This means getting on as many waiting lists as possible.

  • Note: Both Section 8 housing and low-income availability is “absolutely terrible right now.” Social workers are spread very thin.

  • If applicants don’t have a computer or phone, they can use a computer at a public library.

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