This year, AEC Cares has its sights set on improving Denver, Colorado’s Beacon Place facility with a project start date of June 19. The goal is to renovate and enhance this Colorado Coalition for the Homeless facility that provides transitional housing for homeless people. AEC Cares is looking for volunteers of all kinds to help out with the project and is also seeking donations of money and materials. This is AEC Cares’ third project aimed at linking architecture and construction professionals to communities in need.
The coalition opened Beacon Place in 1999 and today it has 85 beds, a computer room, television area and communal room. Residents get meals, housekeeping and laundry services. There is also space reserved for disabled veterans and people needing a place to recover after a hospital stay. The coalition’s approach to the homeless problem focuses on making housing the cornerstone of intervention. Called, Housing First, the program helps the homeless move more quickly off the streets, or out of the shelter system. It includes crisis intervention, rapid access to housing with followup case management, and support services to reduce the chances of people falling back into homelessness.
Homelessness runs deep in the USA
Why should we care? First of all, homelessness is a chronic problem that wastes human potential and keeps people in misery. On any January night in 2012 there were more than 600,000 people in the U.S. living without adequate shelter; 62% on their own and 38% as members of families that were also homeless. More than 10% of the homeless are veterans.
The coalition cites some other compelling reasons to continue working on the homeless problem in this country. It claims that services like those it provides reduce emergency costs by more than $30,000 per participant, results in 84% fewer detox visits, 76% fewer days in jail, 34% fewer emergency room and outpatient visits, and 66% fewer inpatient hospital days.