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Community of Hope

Community of Hope: Challenges

At the Community of Hope Summit, we came away with 1,260 statements from 200 participants representing dozens of Boulder County safety net organizations. We organized the statements by objective. Then we used a “word cloud” analysis for each objective to determine the top keywords used in the discussions. In the word cloud, the larger a word appears, the more frequently it was mentioned in a table’s discussion.

During the summit, 22 groups of 8 participants tackled 4 major objectives: with regard to our collaboration on Boulder County’s safety net, identify 1) what’s working well today, 2) our areas of greatest opportunity moving forward, 3) the major challenges we face, and 4) the support that’s needed to overcome these challenges.

To the right is the word cloud for the third objective, challenges; view the raw data.

There are many takeaways here that are useful, certainly. Let’s look first at housing (referenced 27 times):

  • There is limited housing stock.
  • We face high cost and low availability of transitional and permanent housing.
  • There is a lack of affordable housing.
  • We don’t have enough affordable housing.
  • The cost of housing is a barrier for too many community members.
  • We need more housing for domestic violence survivors – from 3 months to 2 years.
  • Zoning limits in the county are preventing additional affordable housing facilities to be built.
  • Rental housing in Boulder County has an extremely low vacancy rate, driving up prices.

This is not necessarily surprising, but very helpful when seen as a whole. Clearly, this will need to continue to be an area of focus for us over the next 12-24 months. The questions might now be: how do we as a community come together to ensure more affordable housing resources are available in Boulder County? What can we do collectively to create a vision for affordable housing that helps us all meet the needs of our clients?

Now let’s review funding (referenced 17 times):

  • Funding is being siloed; we need to leverage it better.
  • We have too many funding barriers and siloes.
  • We need funding for building more affordable housing.
  • Disasters created less money and low funding for services.
  • There isn’t enough transparency of funding and information about community engagement.
  • There are funding siloes and limitations.
  • We have too many funding barriers (this impacts seamless services; for example, Connect for Health Colorado vs. Medicaid).
  • We need more resources, including funding for housing.
  • Disasters have created a low funding pool alongside increased need and compassion fatigue.
  • Housing funding is rigid.
  • There isn’t enough advocacy at the state and fed level for flexible funding.
  • We need to focus more on Funding availability and priority in terms of policy.

A key takeaway here? Perhaps that much more needs to be done (driven by a collective force within Boulder County) to help create more flexibility with funding at the federal and state level, with one focus area being affordable housing development.

We also looked at the takeaways for “the challenges we face” according to our six primary safety net pillars: Employment and Income Stability, Access to Adequate Food and Nutrition, Health and Well Being, Housing, Safety, and Education. Below are some of the results:

  • We have inadequate access to current employment supportive services at Workforce.
  • We don’t have enough subsidized child care slots.
  • We do not have enough jobs with livable wages, too many pay just minimum wage.

  • We need a system in which doctors are involved in prescribing adequate food as part of overall health.
  • We need more access to free and reduced lunches for children.
  • We need to create more opportunities for subsidizing of adequate nutrition for families and individuals.

  • We need Navigators to help clients access services.
  • We need better health care links for infants and toddlers.
  • Resources for mental health services are sometimes punitive.

  • Limited housing stock.
  • Tenant instability.
  • Extremely low vacancy rates.
  • Low stock of supportive housing.
  • Zoning can make it difficult to create additional affordable housing.

  • Resourcing the very high risk persistent cases.
  • Recruitment for foster care/adoption.
  • BCDHHS closing cases too soon.
  • Lack of domestic violence education in schools and other agencies.
  • There is no common language between communities, agencies, program-to-program, and agency-to-family.

  • There are cultural and language barriers to accessing services and information.
  • We have limited understanding between all agencies and partners about the range of services we offer.
  • We don’t provide enough collective education to clients around the services we offer.
  • Educational systems are still somewhat siloed and separated from the county network of service providers.

We clearly have many opportunities for addressing these challenges, and the Community of Hope work ahead will be crucial as we identify the best approaches to addressing them.

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