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In 2019 it was reported that homelessness in Denver was up 8.2% from 2018. Although Colorado’s homelessness problem is not limited to Denver, it does account for approximately half of the homeless population. More broadly, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that an estimated 10,857 people were homeless in Colorado as of January 2018. Although, according to that map, Colorado’s numbers are low compared to, say, Washington (over 22,000), Texas (over 25,000), and California (almost 130,000), Colorado does rank in the second highest tier.
Regardless of where Colorado’s homeless population “ranks” on a national level, this statewide problem is on the rise, and libraries are often at the forefront of working with the homeless. So, what can libraries and other cultural institutions do to make a difference? The Colorado State Library has, as part of its Let’s Talk About It program, homelessness resource kits designed to provide tools to help institutions tackle this problem. Currently, there are three copies of the kit available to libraries and institutions across the state.
What’s the homelessness kit about?
The purpose of the kit is to spark conversation in your community about homelessness, to give patrons an opportunity to learn about homelessness, and to help people who are experiencing homelessness tell their story. Included in the kit are resources for staff to create a welcoming and supportive environment. The kit includes quick reference guides for staff, sample books on the topic, community conversation tools, and activity props like the care kit creation activity (which includes a sample care kit of socks, hand warmers, travel-size hygiene items, etc.) and the board game Home Sweet Homelessness. For more information, including a full list of contents, visit the kit’s webpage.
How can you snag a kit for your library/institution?
First, if you haven’t already, you need to enroll your institution in our program. Note: we deliver kits via the CLiC statewide courier system, so you must be a member of that system to borrow a kit. You can enroll at cslkits.cvlsites.org/enroll/. Once you submit that form, we will set you up with an account, send you your login credentials, and then you can place a hold through the Aspencat catalog website, where you can also browse the other resource kits we offer as well as the Book Club Resource bags we offer for borrowing.