In the face of rising angst about the increase in homeless encampments over the past few years, one group is seeking to educate the public about the roots of homelessness and mobilize supporters. In January the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless opened its 2021 Virtual Education Series.
“Moving Forward: Using Our Experience to Build a Better Future” is the title of an 11-part webinar series sponsored by the Coalition. The webinars, which are one-hour each, are hosted monthly and feature experts on various topics related to homelessness and allow for community conversation. Some of the upcoming topics include:
- Alternatives to Homelessness: Innovative Solutions that Work
- Out and on the Street: LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness
- Building Housing Equity: Dismantling Systemic Barriers People of Color Face
This is the fourth year for these community conversations, with the first two years occurring in-person. The Coalition has found that the virtual program is attracting even more participants, with a range of 50-120 participants per discussion.
“We are hoping to dispel some of the myths about homelessness,” said Cathy Alderman, Chief Communications and Public Policy Officer, in citing the purpose of the series. The series also educates and mobilizes homeless advocates, particularly subgroups of advocates interested in specific populations, like youth, LGBTQ+ or veterans.
As the visibility of homelessness has increased during the pandemic, particularly in the form of tent encampments in public rights of way, angry comments on social media sites like Nextdoor.com have increased, along with actions by cities to disband the encampments. The City/County of Denver conducts periodic sweeps of such encampments but has been challenged in court by homeless advocates.
An important part of civic capital, as described in our Civic Index, is authentic communication, and webinars like these are a good way to help residents and other community members understand the root causes and potential solutions to an issue like homelessness. To learn more or tune in to the webinars, please visit the Coalition’s website here.