In Jefferson County, more than 800 people are homeless, according to a 2023 Point in Time Survey. That’s a 73 percent increase over the previous year and reflects the number of people who are homeless in our community on a single night. Another more robust data set places the number closer to 3,600 annually. Leaders in Jeffco and across the metro area are working collectively to address homelessness.
Along West Colfax Avenue, a recently converted Harley Davidson store has become a haven of hope for those without housing. Jeffco commissioners, along with area mayors, city council members, and other community members toured the new Navigation Center during a recent open house. The 10,000-square-foot center is transformational for the people it serves, including the capacity to shelter 50 guests during extreme weather events.
This one-stop center meets people where they are with a singular focus on providing critically needed services to help end the cycle of homelessness. About 75 to 100 unhoused people visit the navigation center each day. They can have a warm meal, take a shower, do their laundry, get a medical exam, and work with a navigator to find support services such as employment and mental health services. RecoveryWorks, the non-profit that runs the center, works closely with local partners to provide those on-site services.
Identifying funding for the center reflects the power of partnership. The City of Lakewood received $9.3 million in state funds and Jeffco commissioners have set aside an additional $3 million in federal dollars to help support the Navigation Center. The state also awarded funds to create navigation centers in other cities including Aurora, Denver, Boulder, and a central location to serve the cities of Littleton, Englewood, and Sheridan. Jefferson County commissioners also have banked another $3 million for a navigation center proposed in Arvada.
Navigation centers are one of several strategies underway in Jefferson County to address homelessness. Jeffco’s Severe Weather Shelter Network works with the faith-based community and other volunteers to provide cold weather, overnight shelter up to 40 people per site and the county provides 23 hotel vouchers per night to unhoused families.
Commissioners also approved more than $600,000 to hire outreach workers and strengthen our services to help the unhoused, including improved coordination and communication with local partners. Jeffco Human Services recently hired a new Regional Homeless Coordinator. Still, there’s much more work ahead.
No one county or city can work in isolation when it comes to homelessness. It requires a thoughtful, strategic metro-wide approach as we work together for safe, permanent housing for those in need.
- Commissioner Lesley DahlkemperCommissioner Dahlkemper can be reached via email or phone at (303) 638-3433.
Learn more about the Jefferson County Commissioners. The Board of County Commissioners’ public hearings are held on most Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. and we invite you to join us for public comment. Find meeting details on the Public Meetings page.