Published on the first Monday of each month by Bob Yates, Boulder City Council
Subscribers this month: 6,312

Homelessness: Past, Present, Future
By Bob Yates
Dream with me, for a moment. Let’s imagine a world where no one is homeless. Where every cause of homelessness—financial distress, substance abuse, mental illness—is addressed quickly and effectively. Where every person who needs help seeks it and receives it. Where money, compassion, and humility are in abundance. Where every community does its fair share and takes care of its own. That would be nice.
Now, let’s get real. Homelessness has been part of human society as long as there has been human society. Records from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are replete with references to the poor and the unhoused. In the Odyssey, Ulysses observes that “a beggar can always do better in town than country.” And in Colonial America, the term “vagrant” was used as early as 1640 to describe “sturdy beggars,” those capable of working but who chose not to, due to a “lack of character that induces idleness.” After each American armed conflict—the Civil War, the world wars, Vietnam—homelessness in U.S. cities spiked as returning veterans, haunted by scenes of death and destruction, suffered the indignities of mental collapse, self-medicating substance abuse, and community rejection.
October 1, 2017, was a red-letter date for homelessness strategy here in Boulder County. On that day, the cities of Boulder and Longmont, together with the county, launched Homeless Solutions for Boulder County. Prior to October 2017, the delivery of homelessness services in Boulder and Longmont was uncoordinated, inconsistent, and largely reactive to symptoms, with little focus on cures. In Boulder, general sheltering was provided by three different organizations, with widely divergent missions and conflicting practices. Not surprisingly, homeless folks sought out the services that were the most generous and that required the least amount of effort. Data collection was virtually non-existent and outcomes were only guesses. Many people slipped through the cracks.
To correct these deficiencies, the two largest cities in the county and the county itself formed a consortium in October 2017 to effectively address homelessness, under a coherent and coordinated strategy. They would be consistent in their approach and they would communicate frequently. They would spend money where it was effective, and they would eliminate programs that did not get to the root causes of the problem. They would recognize that the solution to homelessness is permanent housing. 
Since October 2017, each person seeking services from
 Read more ☞

Meet the new boss
Sometimes, you just have to trust your instincts. Faced with a big decision, you can agonize over all of the seemingly-objective pros and cons. At some point, you realize that maybe the “objective” filters you’re applying are themselves subjective. That you’re merely confirming and rationalizing your own biases. That’s when it’s time step back, give your brain a break, listen to your heart. 
When it came time for the city council to select Boulder’s next city manager from a field of 62 qualified candidates—arguably one of the biggest decisions we are called on to make—the choice became pretty clear. Our minds and hearts were aligned. The nine of us on council, known to disagree on some pretty arcane things, came together unanimously: Boulder’s next city manager would be Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde. 
What does the city manager actually do? Since 1918, Boulder has had a city manager-council form of government. This means that, while the elected city council and mayor set policy, we are merely the legislative branch of government. The actual administration of the city, its day-to-day operations, are run by a professional city manager and the 1300 city employees who work for her, from police and fire, to transportation and housing, to human services, IT, libraries, parks, and open space. 
In the 103 years that Boulder has operated under this system of government, we have had 18 permanent city managers, with an average term of nearly six year. Our last city manager, Jane Brautigam, announced her retirement last July, after more than 12 years leading the city. So, it’s not a decision council is called on to make frequently and, when we do, we want to get it right. That’s why we engaged in a months-long process, developing a job description with the help of a professional recruiter, casting a nationwide net for applicants, winnowing the candidate pool from 62 applicants to 13, then to five, and finally to two finalists presented to the community for their input. Along the way, hundreds of hours were spent reviewing resumes, checking references, conducting interviews, surveying the community. In the end, I believe, the choice was obvious.
The first thing you notice when you meet Nuria is... 
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Recent Votes & Positions:

Colorado Arrest Standards: At the April 6 council meeting, I joined a majority on council in requiring the amendment of Colorado Senate Bill 62 which, as then written, would have severely limited the authority of police departments across the state in arresting those suspected of certain crimes, including serious felonies.  What was I thinking ☞

Ambassadors & Campgrounds: At the April 27 study session, I joined a unanimous council in approving a pilot ambassador program for Downtown and the Hill.  What was I thinking ☞
In the News:

April 6: March 22 named as Boulder Day of Remembrance

April 7: Boulder City Council talks Senate Bill 62

April 7: Boulder moves Ball expansion, Hill hotel, apartment project forward without debate

April 8: After tribal consultation, Boulder sets tentative timeline for renaming Settler's Park, approving land acknowledgements

April 13: Boulder City Council approves micromobility regulations

April 16: Boulder City Council agrees to continue its support for trail connectors at Rocky Flats

April 17: With CU South annexation agreement inching closer, Boulder residents remain divided

April 20: Upon passage of resolution, Boulder will advocate for gun violence prevention measures

April 21: Boulder City Council provides direction on CU South

April 21: Boulder approves additions of Ball, Diagonal Plaza to height exemption map

April 29: Boulder set to spend $2.7M on clearing encampments, cleaning parks

April 2021 issue on King Soopers shooting here
Find other recent past issues here
Next monthly issue June 7

Council Meetings & Study Sessions

Unless otherwise noted, all council meetings and study sessions and other meetings begin at 6:00 at City Council Chambers, second floor, 1777 Broadway. Information current as of first Monday of the month, but subject to change.
Confirm agendas 

Tuesday, May 4: Council Meeting  
Marpa House public hearing; public space safety regulations (may be May 25)

Tuesday, May 11: Study Session
Community engagement; return to in-person meetings

Tuesday, May 18: Council Meeting 
Library district

Tuesday, May 25: Study Session
Ballot measures; financial analysis

Tuesday, June 1: Council Meeting
Municipal court report; cannabis regulations; ultra-light airplanes

Tuesday, June 8: Study Session
Climate action plan

Contact Bob 
Voice Message: 720.310.5829
Office: 1777 Broadway, Boulder (email in advance for appointment)
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