City of Aurora, CO
Folk Singer John Prine, eg, Living in the Future.
HUD may give the Denver metro area $24 million a year to fight homelessness (split among the seven cities in the area including Aurora), but the problem still abounds. Many families are forced to seek safe shelter in the rundown motels that span the length of Colfax Avenue.
Aurora decided to step up its game and for the first time created a specific role in the city government tasked with 100% focus on the issue, short-term and long-term. Shelley was appointed and given $4.5 million over three years to work with all agencies and local non-profits to provide services and develop a strategy to find families housing and jobs.
The funds came from marijuana sales revenue. $900,000 is being used to renovate a vacated police training gym into a new Homeless Day Resource Center. It’s right across the street from an overnight shelter and will provide locker space, community partner offices, sleeping bays, showers and bathrooms, a computer lab and classroom, and most importantly, staff that will help connect those experiencing homelessness to housing options and work programs.
$200,000 will bolster services provided by the Colfax Community Network, including after-school kids programs, and emergency health services. Other funds will support Aurora’s new street outreach team, which will emphasize connecting homeless in the business district with local service centers.
Shelley aims to support ongoing implementation of national best practices to standardize how Aurora handles homelessness. Also, to continue collaboration with national non-profit organizations like the National Alliance of Homelessness, the Cold Spring Center for Social Innovation, and OrgCode.
“It takes time to shift systems from taking care of the basic survival needs of individuals, to providing evidence-based solutions that lead to reducing and ending homelessness. It’s the long-game that matters, and Aurora is in it for the long-run.”
Grew up all over as a “Boeing Brat.” Shelley’s dad took her to Seattle, Vancouver, LA, and Montana. BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Colorado (Boulder), Masters in Anthropology from the University of Virginia, and another in non-profit Management from Regis University in Denver.
Lived as a wandering folk singer, picked up a guitar and sang in bars all over South Africa and Ireland. Got a 1968 D28 Martin guitar at a BBQ in Glenwood Springs—for those who are guitar enthusiasts, that’s a pretty big deal.