Homelessness: What is the city doing to help women transition to permanent housing?

Categories: News, Politics

That pattern changed for Helen when the Gathering Place, a daytime center for women in need, helped her find a case manager that eventually connected her to housing and substance-abuse treatment.

"I really wanted to get clean," she says. "It was totally my decision to do that.... You just get tired of being tired, tired of scraping the barrel. You just get tired of hustling."

Erica Guzman, Teresa Turner and Stefanie Cardwell.jpeg
Photo by Anthony Camera
Homeless women in Denver who have relied on services at the Gathering Place.
Through her treatment program, which provides her with medication, and with the new stability of subsidized housing, she says it became easier for her to start turning her life around.

"I feel like waking up in the morning," she says. "I'm thinking clearer."

She adds, "The first step is wanting [to change].... The programs, the classes, none of that is gonna happen unless you want to."

Since participating in these programs, Helen says she hopes to go back to school and work toward becoming a registered nurse.

Part of her turnaround came from having a case manager who would listen to her. A lot of women on the street, she says, can feel abandoned.

"It's important to have somebody to talk to.... Sometimes, it feels like no one cares," says Helen.

"It's better now," she adds. "I'm seeing things with a whole new set of eyes."

Helen says her relationships with her two children and three grandchildren have also improved; she just spent Thanksgiving with them in Denver.

Still, as we note in our feature, there are a lot of women without homes in Denver and, from the perspective of service providers, not enough programs and beds to meet the growing demands.

As Helen looks toward her future, she says it depresses her to observe other women who haven't been successful.

"It's really hard to see them," she says. "I really feel sorry for them, I do, because there are people that are way worse off than I was."

More from our Politics archive: "Amendment 64 is now law: Governor John Hickenlooper quietly signs measure"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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