I’d hoped to find someone who might defend the city’s decision to cut off funding for BOHO’s overnight shelter on May 1. What I found was far worse: there was apparently no “decision” at all. The city’s shelter contract with BOHO simply expired, and wasn’t renewed. There was no substitute shelter available if Tuesday’s rain had turned into a serious storm or cold snap.
Council should rebuke city staff for risking human life, and take swift corrective action. Instead, staffer Karen Rahn conceded “the timing was awkward,” and Lisa Morzel suggested that “the community kind of expects” an open shelter this time of year. This is shockingly insufficient. Leaders seeking to reassure voters of Boulder’s competence to manage our electrical grid can ill-afford to shrug off negligence in letting our established social safety net hit the floor.
All this is taking place in the midst of a laudable transition from the traditional “shelter for all” model to a “housing first” model, begun last fall and still in the planning stages. It’s a promising approach, showing good results elsewhere. Council will consider a plan at its May 16 meeting. BOHO’s Bill Sweeney figures it will take at least a year, starting from where we are now, to have the new system in place — and meanwhile, another winter to get through. One sure way to botch any implementation is to axe current services before the new system is up and running. We’ve just taken an alarming lurch down that road.
John Tweedy, email@example.com