In the News

In the News

Watch & Read about Mental Health Center of Denver in the news.

The coronavirus slowed the opening of a new women’s shelter on Santa Fe and forced some changes in focus

Denverite | August 17, 2020

The colors are muted at Denver’s newest shelter, a 24-hour facility for older women that Volunteers of America has opened on Santa Fe Drive. The walls are painted ocean greens and blues. Forest-themed tapestries soften the concrete floors and exposed ducts of what was once a warehouse.

Temple Gaston, who had been at a temporary shelter for women at the Coliseum until it closed earlier this month, said she can find peace and calm at the facility and be supported as she seeks permanent housing.

“I wasn’t getting that over at the Coliseum,” Gaston said. “I wasn’t able to clearly think.”

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Amherst will explore alternative policing models

Mass Live | August 13, 2020

Town officials plan to explore alternative policing models, including a pilot program underway in Colorado that has mental health professionals, rather than armed police officers, respond to certain calls.

The Town Council discussed the reform effort at its meeting Monday. An outline presented at the meeting says the first step is to create a working group to begin the process. A report on the matter is due Jan. 31.

The outline says the mission is “Re-envisioning community services to build a Town in which Black residents thrive and feel protected, as do people of all colors.”

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Denver parishes redouble efforts to provide food for those in need

Denver Catholic | August 13, 2020

Parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver haven’t kept their arms crossed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it be by collecting food or hosting food banks and sandwich lines, many of them have intensified and adapted their efforts to provide these services amid the current health risks and regulations.

Some parishes shared with us what they have done in the past few months to ensure no family goes to bed on an empty stomach.

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Denver RTD Board votes down proposed resolution to eliminate security contract

Mass Transit Magazine | August 13, 2020

A resolution to end transit security contracts with a private firm and the local police departments and instead allocate the $27.3 million toward alternative security approaches and human services was rejected by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors on Aug. 11.

The board voted 14-1 against Denver RTD Director Shontel Lewis’ resolution, after widely praising her for bringing the idea forward but saying it was too sweeping to be approved after a relatively brief discussion. Many board members also said Denver RTD operators and riders did not want an abrupt end to security officers patrolling the sprawling transit system and responding to incidents.

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The Term Sheet: Startup funding roundup for July 2020

BusinessDen | August 12, 2020

Colorado startup funding in July was down $30 million from last year.

According to a tally of Form Ds filed with the SEC last month, 38 startups around the state raised a total of $78.5 million, compared to July 2019’s $108 million. It’s also a steep drop from June, during which 29 startups raised $197.6 million in total. 

BusinessDen defines a startup as a business that’s less than 10 years old and excludes publicly traded companies, real estate ventures and funds.

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Denver sweeps of unhoused people often push campers to nearby blocks while continuing a cycle of trauma

Denverite | August 7, 2020

“I never wanted to come to a school,” Patrick Wilcox said as he synched up his flatbed wagon Tuesday. It contained nearly everything he owned, and he was preparing to push it somewhere north. He wasn’t sure where he’d end up sleeping.

Everyone camping around Morey Middle School knew their relative stability was coming to an end. As the school year crept closer, so did a day when police officers would show up and order them to leave. Wilcox was among those who moved before the cops and garbage trucks arrived.

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Will Denver voters approve a 0.25 percent sales tax for programs dedicated to getting people off the streets?

Denverite | August 4, 2020

A proposal to raise the sales tax to create a dedicated city fund to address homelessness is a step closer to landing on the ballot.

On Tuesday, Denver City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee forwarded at-large member Robin Kniech’s Homelessness Resolution Fund proposal to the full council. If it passes there, it will be presented to voters in November. On Monday, the full council agreed to let voters decide on a sales tax increase that would raise money to fight climate change.

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Service providers slam an operation this week to remove a tent city from a park near the state Capitol

Denverite | July 31, 2020

Poorly planned, poorly communicated, unacceptable and undignified.

The service providers the city depends on to shelter and support people experiencing homelessness were blunt in their assessment of an operation this week to remove a tent city from a park near the state Capitol. Helmeted state troopers took part in the clean-up led by Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment, which had declared Lincoln park a health hazard.

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Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention: Innovation In A Crisis

Open Minds | July 28, 2020

“If we think what we are doing today will serve us tomorrow, then we will not be here tomorrow.” This comment, made at The 2020 Strategy & Innovation Institute keynote address Innovation By Design: Capturing Value In Health Care by Carl Clark, M.D., chief executive officer of the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD), are words of wisdom for every executive team member of a specialty provider organization. Innovation is no longer a luxury, it is a strategic survival skill.

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Black Yoga Collectives Aim to Make Space for Healing

The New York Times | July 27, 2020

Beverly Grant spent years juggling many roles before yoga helped her restore her balance.

When not doting over her three children, she hosted her public affairs talk radio show, attended community meetings or handed out cups of juice at her roving Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace farmers market, which has brought local, fresh foods and produce to this city’s food deserts for more than a decade.

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Namaste Noir: Yoga Co-Op Seeks to Diversify Yoga to Heal Racialized Trauma

Kaiser Health News | July 27, 2020

Beverly Grant spent years juggling many roles before yoga helped her restore her balance.

When not doting over her three children, she hosted her public affairs talk radio show, attended community meetings or handed out cups of juice at her roving Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace farmers market, which has brought local, fresh foods and produce to this city’s food deserts for more than a decade.

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A 'Word of Thanks' from Next

9News | July 8, 2020

The Word of Thanks that comes to mind when we think about the STAR program is "lives." Their work truly has the potential to save lives.

Talk to police or protesters and they'll agree - police officers are not social workers, yet they often end up on calls where someone in distress needs medical or mental health support, and not an armed response.

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1A Across America: When Cities Stop Sending Police To Mental Health Emergencies

1A | July 6, 2020

Police officers are not social workers, yet they’ve become the “de facto facilitators of mental health care in America,” according to a 2019 survey of law enforcement. But with protesters calling to defund the police after an officer killed George Floyd in late May, change may be coming.

Cities nationwide have already begun diverting budget funds from police departments to social workers and public services. San Francisco Mayor London Breed says police will no longer respond to non-criminal calls and mental health emergencies.  New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio wants to redirect $1 billion away from the city’s police budget and into social services.

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New program diverts some 911 calls from police to a mental health team

Denver7 | July 2, 2020

A new program has started in Denver that diverts some nonviolent 911 calls away from police officers and to a mental health team instead.

STAR, or Support Team Assisted Response, has been in the works for years, even before the current conversation about defunding the police started gaining traction. It launched June 1 and is championed by Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen.

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When Cities Replace Police with Social Workers

Route Fifty | July 2, 2020

In June, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced a plan to create a new, civilian-led department to handle 911 calls for people who need help because they are intoxicated, homeless, on drugs or in a mental health crisis. Instead of police responding to these calls, the city wants to create a new agency that will send out social workers, housing counselors, and violence prevention specialists.

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New programs use mental health professionals as an alternative to police

The Today Show | July 2, 2020

Studies say that at least one in four people killed by police officers has a mental health issue. Now a Colorado city is having a behavioral health specialist and paramedic respond to low-risk 911 calls instead of police. There’s a similar program in Eugene, Oregon. NBC senior national correspondent Kate Snow reports for TODAY.

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‘If the Police Aren’t Needed, Let’s Leave Them Out Completely’

Pew | June 23, 2020

Every weekday morning, mental health clinician Carleigh Sailon turns on her police radio in downtown Denver and finds out who she can help next. She, along with a paramedic, jump in a repurposed city van, stripped of its blue lights and official insignia, and respond to 911 calls for people experiencing mental health crises, homelessness or drug addiction.

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Talking to Kids About Racism

Colorado Parent | July 2020

Earlier this week, my nine-year-old son came home from a socially distanced bike ride frantically asking, “Mom! Did you know a police officer killed a black man by kneeling on his neck? There’s a video on YouTube!”

Information is power, and so I’m always willing to have candid conversations with my children. We’d talked about race and racism before, but I shied away from the topic of police brutality against African Americans because I wanted to shelter my school-aged kids from a topic I assumed they couldn’t handle emotionally. (Which seems ridiculous, in retrospect, since African American mothers have never had the luxury of hiding police brutality from their sons.)

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Defund police? Some cities have already started, investing in mental health instead

USA Today | June 22, 2020

Leslie Herod couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

It was May 2019, and Herod, a Colorado state representative from northeast Denver, was in Eugene, Oregon, on a ride-along with a crisis intervention team that takes the place of police response

The team arrived at what Herod describes as a typical suburban house: nice neighborhood, good-looking yard, kids playing outside. But inside the home, a wife was in hysterics: Her husband had locked himself into the bathroom and was threatening to kill himself with a box cutter. 

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Home Personal Finance As activists call to defund the police, mental-health advocates say ‘the time is now’ to rethink public safety

Market Watch | June 16, 2020

Thirty-one years ago, the Eugene, Ore., mobile crisis-intervention program Cahoots (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) was born. The 24/7 service, provided by the nonprofit White Bird Clinic and integrated into the city’s public-safety infrastructure, dispatches a medic and crisis worker to respond to non-criminal crises involving people experiencing mental illness problems, substance abuse and homelessness.

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The STAR Van Offers an Alternative to Police

5280 Magazine | June 17, 2020

Caring for Denver Foundation’s newest initiative couldn’t have debuted at a more complicated—and perhaps auspicious—time.

The six-month pilot program, dubbed Support Team Assisted Response (STAR), utilizes a single service van staffed by a mental health clinician and a paramedic. If a 911 operator receives a call about a non-criminal situation—such as reports of mental health emergencies, drug overdoses, or requests for a welfare check—they dispatch the boxy white ride (unless it’s on another call) to the scene instead of police officers.

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Abolish? Reform? Defund? Protesters Want Policing To Change In Colorado

KUNC Radio | June 12, 2020

Following the death of George Floyd, protesters in Denver, the Front Range and across the nation have been marching through the streets demanding police reform.

“I hate to say this but I know exactly how George’s family feels,” said Natalia Marshall, referring to George Floyd’s family, during a recent press conference at the state Capitol. Her uncle, Michael Marshall, was killed by deputies in a Denver jail in 2015. 

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How To Change Policing? New Service To Help People In Crisis

CBS4 | June 12, 2020

It’s a plain van. Actually a re-purposed vehicle that had been destined for traffic enforcement. Yellow lights on top not blue. There’s no logo yet, but they’re working on it.

“It’s pretty unassuming,” says Carleigh Sailon, program manager for criminal justice services with Mental Health Center of Denver. “Most people have been pretty happy to have it show up and very willing to work with us on solutions.”

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New Denver program has clinician, paramedic respond to some mental health 911 calls instead of police

Fox 31 | June 8, 2020

A new program in Denver removes police officers from certain 911 calls. A pilot version of the STAR program launched in June 1. Five days a week, a mental health clinician, along with a paramedic, respond to mental health crises-related calls.

The Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) is funded through the Caring for Denver Foundation. The foundation is funded though a November 2018 ballot initiative voters passed to support programs for mental health and substance misuse issues.

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How The Pandemic Is Changing Mental Health Care For Young Children

CPR News | June 9, 2020

CPR Colorado Matters interviewed Shannon Bekman about telehealth and early childhood mental health.

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June 9, 2020: Denver’s Police Chief on Reform; Telemedicine Adapts To Help Young Children

CPR News | June 9, 2020

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen answers questions about reform. Then, how telemedicine is adapting to help children with mental health needs. Also, Purplish explores the effects of the pandemic and protests on lawmakers. Plus, a Colorado Springs woman pursues her dream to open a boutique. And, checking in with Rockies players waiting for the season to start.

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A long-planned program to remove police from some 911 calls launched as Denver’s streets erupted in police brutality protests

Colorado Independent | June 9, 2020

Roshan Bliss has been trying to find ways to curb police violence for years and scored a major victory at the beginning of the month, just as Denver started protesting racism and police brutality.

Bliss, a volunteer and co-chair of the Denver Justice Project, helped shepherd a pilot project into existence that’s now diverting some 911 calls away from armed officers to an unassuming van manned by a Denver Health paramedic and a social worker from the Mental Health Center of Denver. It’s called Support Team Assisted Response, or STAR, and the idea is to send more appropriate responses to 911 calls that have to do with substance abuse, mental health crises or people who just need help connecting to services. A grant from the Caring 4 Denver fund, which voters approved in 2019, has given STAR at least six months to prove it can be effective.

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A long-planned program to remove police from some 911 calls launched as Denver’s streets erupted in police brutality protests

Denverite | June 8, 2020

Roshan Bliss has been trying to find ways to curb police violence for years and scored a major victory at the beginning of the month, just as Denver started protesting racism and police brutality.

Bliss, a volunteer and co-chair of the Denver Justice Project, helped shepherd a pilot project into existence that’s now diverting some 911 calls away from armed officers to an unassuming van manned by a Denver Health paramedic and a social worker from the Mental Health Center of Denver. It’s called Support Team Assisted Response, or STAR, and the idea is to send more appropriate responses to 911 calls that have to do with substance abuse, mental health crises or people who just need help connecting to services. A grant from the Caring 4 Denver fund, which voters approved in 2019, has given STAR at least six months to prove it can be effective.

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Mental Health Center of Denver launches “Well-Being LIVE” virtual event series

YourHub | June 8, 2020

As we navigate a “new normal” during COVID-19,  practicing self-care and making positive connections with others is vital to support well-being. To help educate and inspire during these stressful times, the Mental Health Center of Denver launched a new weekly series of “Well-Being LIVE” online events. These brief weekly events are led by experts and cover a wide range of topics related to well-being, from meditation and nutrition to self-care and parenting tools.

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Are Protests Ushering In A New Era Of Policing?

CPR News | June 8, 2020

Policing in Denver has changed, in part, both because a court intervened and because of public pressure. What is the right role for police? When does the community need them? When does it not? A new program called STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) now allows dispatchers to send a team of mental health experts, and not a police officer, to a mental health crisis they deem "low-risk." It's a pilot program that comes amid calls for the community to re-envision police departments.

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Denver Psychiatric Nurse Gets Uplifting Message From Fellow Nurses

CBS4 Denver | May 17, 2020

A group of nurses from the Mental Health Center of Denver delivered an uplifting surprise to one of their co-workers. They held up signs outside UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital on Wednesday to show the psychiatric nurse they love and miss her.

She is undergoing rehabilitation from COVID-19.

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The Mental Health Center of Denver adjusts to a new way of operating

9News | May 12, 2020

The Mental Health Center of Denver is helping their clients during the pandemic by making food and prescription deliveries and offering remote visits.

Watch the full story on Youtube.

Mental Health and COVID-19

KOA News Radio | May 12, 2020

Discussing the mental health angle of quarantining amid COVID-19 and steps people can take to take care of themselves with Mental Health Center of Denver President Dr. Carl Clark.

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LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY’S WELL-BEING IMPACTED GREATER

OutFront Magazine | May 11, 2020

Many things go into a person’s mental health and well-being—social connection, having a safe place to live, practicing effective coping strategies, and more.

According to Mental Health America, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are more than three times as likely to experience a mental health condition than those who identify as straight. This may be because of a lack of support system, traumatic experiences, discrimination, and other factors.

Read the full story.

ZEEL presents “The Space Between: Beauty and Release for a Separated Community”

YourHub | May 11, 2020

In good times and bad, artists play a vital role in reflecting society, facilitating conversation, connection, and social awareness. As the coronavirus pandemic hit Denver, the art community had to stop this pursuit in its tracks — abruptly cancelling exhibits, events, and other projects, to stay healthy and comply with the city’s stay-at-home orders. In other ways however, artists became busier than ever, creating new works, planning virtual exhibits and innovating ways to safely share their work for the enjoyment of others, and out of urgent economic necessity. 

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Five Points couple behind Agape church sets out to develop affordable housing

Denverite | May 5, 2020

When Eddie Woolfolk started employing men around her Five Points neighborhood to renovate housing, she saw it as part of the services her Agape Christian Church was offering the community.

Woolfolk is executive director of Community Outreach Service Center, a nonprofit she and her husband, Robert Woolfolk, who is Agape’s pastor, formed in 1988 that offers such support as financial counseling, computer classes, and tutoring for young people. Twenty years ago, after Eddie learned many of the neighbors she’d put to work as handymen were struggling to hold onto jobs and find housing because they had been in prison, the Community Outreach Service Center added to its programs transitional housing and counseling for ex-offenders.

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As its clients stay home, Mental Health Center of Denver has turned to delivery

Denverite | April 6, 2020

As a Mental Health Center of Denver case worker, Evan Robertson’s job has involved a lot of driving.

The licensed counselor has chauffeured clients to government offices to help them apply for driver’s licenses or food stamps or to replace a lost birth certificate. Along the way, Robertson would take the opportunity to try to draw his passenger out about what he or she might be struggling with — anxiety, concern about relapsing into alcohol or drug abuse. He calls it “car counseling. Do it on the way to Social Security.”

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Virtual mental health check: Services will likely remain available remotely

Denver7 | April 1, 2020

When stay-at-home orders went into effect in Colorado, the state's largest mental health counseling service had no choice but to go virtual. Denver7's David Klugh explains how COVID-19 converted an entire industry likely forever.

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Connected Colorado: Coping in Uncertain Times

Colorado Communications and Utility Alliance | April 1, 2020

During this very stressful time, we want to help! We’ll talk about strategies to help you through the isolation and fear, and give you some resources, and hope! Watch Connected Colorado as we speak to some local experts about coping in these uncertain times.

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‘The unknown creates a lot of unease’ Mental health professionals provide tips to manage anxiety

The Washington Park Profile | March 27, 2020

It is natural for the unknown to create a lot of distress.

“Accept anxiety as an integral part of human experience,” said Vincent Atchity, president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado. But “the key is not to let anxiety get the better of us.”

There are “age-old tricks” people can do to support their mental health and “ease the anxiety you and your friends and loved ones likely feel” in the midst of this public health crisis, Atchity said.

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Just Breathe: How to Manage Your Mental Health During a Global Crisis

5280 Magazine | March 26, 2020

It feels as though the entire world is on fire. Every day exhausts us as if a week has passed. The news isn’t slowing down. The…

Stop.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
[Repeat as many times as needed]

Yes, we are living through history right now. A crisis of global proportions is leaving many of us fearful, uncertain, stressed, and overwhelmed. And that’s OK. It’s OK to feel however you are feeling right at this moment. But there are also things we all can—and should—do to maintain our own mental wellness.

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Traveling with Kids During the COVID-19 Crisis: 11 Safety Precautions to Take, According to Experts

Family Vacation Critic | March 20, 2020

The decision to travel with your kids during the COVID-19 outbreak is a personal one.

If you’re still planning to take your spring break trip or go on that long-awaited summer vacation, there are some safety measures you can take to stay as healthy as possible. We spoke with several experts about what you should do if traveling during the Coronavirus outbreak, especially when flying.

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How Denver Residents Are Coping with the Anxiety of the Coronavirus

5280 Magazine | March 18, 2020

The novel coronavirus is real—and it’s highly contagious. So too is the anxiety Denverites feel this week. Whether or not you’re physically ill, it’s becoming a starker reality every day that this pandemic is impacting everyone.

I was on Colfax Avenue last weekend and talked with a man who goes by the name Good Time Charlie. He was standing out front of a motel where he sometimes stays, smoking a cigarette. He offered a warm smile through his bushy gray beard when I approached. He told me he often eats and drinks from what he finds in trash bins. “But I’m not doing that no more,” he said. “I don’t want to catch nothing.”

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At Sally’s Café, a Mental Health Center of Denver vocational rehabilitation program, food feeds more than our bodies

Denverite | February 14, 2020

A pipe outside burst on a chilly morning, just hours before a Valentine’s celebration was planned at Sally’s Café.

James Walker happened to have come in early for his evening shift at the café. He saw his colleagues doing what they could to prepare despite having no running water. He pitched in to help scoop ground turkey into meatballs.

Walker is training as he works at Sally’s Café, which is located at and serves clients and staff of a Mental Health Center of Denver location in Baker. Walker said his kitchen skills have improved. His reaction to Thursday’s setback — which in the end did not derail the special annual meal designed to show a little love to Sally’s regulars — was evidence of the resilience that the job-readiness program is also trying to foster.

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Caring for Denver Issues First Grants Worth About $2 Million

5280 Magazine | February 4, 2020

As most voters are aware, it can feel like ages between the moment a ballot initiative is passed on Election Day and its implementation. In the case of Caring for Denver (the ballot initiative aimed at helping Denverites experiencing mental health struggles and substance misuse issues) it’s been 15 months of waiting. But for good reason.

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One Woman’s Holistic Approach to the Housing Affordability Crisis

New York Times | February 1, 2020

When Melinda Pollack reflects on the proudest moments of her career, she often thinks about the day in 2016 that Sanderson Apartments in Denver opened.

As a senior vice president with Enterprise Community Partners, Pollack has a long history in affordable housing development. Sanderson Apartments represents many of the qualities Pollack says that good — as well as affordable — housing should embody.

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Using Trauma-Informed Design, Buildings Become Tools for Recovery

The Colorado Trust | January 30, 2020

It’s less than 30 degrees outside early on a December morning, and the temperature isn’t expected to rise much higher. Just a few years ago, Michael Bullen would have been doing everything he could to stay warm and survive while living on the streets in the Athmar Park area, a backpack as his only possession. Divorce initiated what he calls a “downward spiral,” a decade-long period during which he roamed between states with no place to call home.

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If You Are Serious About Sustainability, Social Equity Can’t Be Just Another Add-On

Metropolis Magazine | January 6, 2020

In August 2018, the NAACP announced Centering Equity in the Sustainable Building Sector, an initiative that addresses an uncomfortable truth: Sustainable design is increasingly a luxury commodity.

“Communities of color and low income communities bear the brunt of the impacts of unhealthy, energy inefficient, and disaster vulnerable buildings,” reads the NAACP’s statement. “Yet, as one looks around the tables or worksites of the sustainable and regenerative building sector, there is little representation of the populations most impacted by our current proliferation of unsustainable, inefficient, sometimes unsafe, and often unhealthy building stock.”

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Denver’s police partnership with mental health professionals likely to extend through 2020

Colorado Politics | December 19, 2019

Denver’s police department for the last three years has worked side-by-side with behavioral health clinicians to co-respond to 911 calls and treat people in mental distress more like patients than prisoners — an initiative likely to stick around, at least through 2020.

A $700,000 contract extension between the city’s Department of Public Health and Environment and the Mental Health Center of Denver to keep the co-responder program running through the end of next year advanced through City Council’s safety committee on Wednesday and will be brought forth to the full council in early January.

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Denver Police sees success by pairing behavioral health specialists with officers

9News | December 18, 2019

The Denver Police Department said it's seeing success by pairing behavioral health specialists with officers while responding to 911 calls. Wednesday, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, which helps oversee this program, told the city council that the co-responder units answered 1,725 calls last year.

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