Boulder receives federal grants for homelessness and behavioral health projects

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Boulder and its county partners have received three federal grants to address homelessness and behavioral health.

The first is a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Justice that the Boulder Police Department intends to use to create a coordinated response related to encampments and homelessness.

The project will include three phases: inventory and data collection; integration of city-wide data and analysis of sample settlements; and creating custom responses for those camps.

“This information will help us develop more effective and holistic responses,” Police Chief Maris Herold said in a news release.

The funding for it comes nearly a year after City Council in the spring of 2021 approved nearly $3 million for efforts to address homeless encampments, including an in-house team to clean up encampments; additional police; urban rangers and a downtown ambassador program.

An additional $150,000 grant from the Department of Justice will be used to enhance the city’s Crisis Response Team, commonly known as CIRT.

It is a collaboration between the Boulder Police Department and the city’s Department of Housing and Human Services and it sends licensed clinicians on calls involving a behavioral health crisis.

The grant will be used to increase the number of patrol officers who receive crisis intervention training as well as the time officers spend with CIRT clinicians, according to Wendy Schwartz, human services policy manager. The funding will also be used to provide a formal evaluation of the CIRT, which officially began about a year ago in February 2021.

Although not directly related to homelessness, an initial CIRT report indicates that approximately one in four of the team’s encounters in its first six months involved someone experiencing homelessness.

The final, largest grant is $900,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The three-year grant was awarded to the Boulder County Department of Community Services and will help start a program called “Project Recovery.”

This program will address the interface between substance abuse and homelessness and will include treatment and recovery services, recovery housing, peer recovery support and treatment alternatives before and after incarceration booking, according to the press release.

While the grant has been awarded to the county, Boulder plans to work with the county, including helping with the location and funding the acquisition of a home for rehabilitation.

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