Balance. We all look for it. Whether in our personal or professional lives we all strive to walk on that fine line where we can function well and have ample impact in our areas of focus. Finding balance requires perseverance and fluidity with a strong a commitment to nurturing many, often competing, priorities.

When it comes to community challenges, such as addressing homelessness, finding balance in our response is essential.  To do so requires leadership and vision, openness and collaboration. Also trade-offs and discipline.

Boulder needs more balance. We cannot be all things to all people. When it comes to homelessness we are faced with the question – what is the right balance of emergency services weighed against investments that take people off the streets forever? Can we achieve complete balance if we to strive to reflect community values weighing openness and compassion with an emphasis on more interventions that lead to self-sufficiency for those in need?

At Bridge House we have vision. We can’t turn our backs on the vulnerable people who need us to safely survive each day but, to truly help them, we need to focus on long-term housing-based solutions.  The proportion of services that offer opportunities – such as Ready to Work, rapid re-housing coupled with case management support, and permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless – needs to be higher than those that are based on daily survival. There are many people looking for a hand up in Boulder and we should be there with opportunities to help them change their circumstance.

I urge us all – service providers, elected officials, supporters, skeptics – to ask ourselves the kind of balance we can achieve. Do we want to perpetuate a cycle of homelessness by only focusing on getting someone through the day or night, or do we want to impact their lives forever by creating engagement opportunities where they can help themselves with our support?

At Bridge House we are striking a balance in our own programming with an emphasis on a shift to long-term interventions while not turning our backs on people who seek safety and security on a daily basis.

Written by Isabel McDevitt

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