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Longmont 2006 All America City FinalistCommunity-Driven Projects

All America City Award, City Manager's Office

View the City of Longmont's All America Cities Application (entire document, pdf file)

View the separate sections of the application which describes our Community.

Part I - Civic Infrastructure

Part II - Community Background and Community Challenge Section

Part III- Community-Driven Projects

Part III:
Community-Driven Projects

Part II requires descriptions of three collaborative community projects that have significantly affected the community.

The first two projects should be drawn directly from the two community challenges stated above.

The third project should be reflective of what your community is doing for children and youth.
PROJECT ONE (Challenge #1)
1. Project summary, name and give a brief description. (150 word maximum)

The Longmont Housing Opportunities Team (LHOT) is a collaborative, community-wide partnership working to end homelessness. Its mission is to eliminate homelessness in the Longmont area by eliminating the root causes of homelessness within 10 years.

This will be achieved by:
1) thoroughly understanding homeless issues and trends in Longmont,
2) designing and implementing appropriate programs that will best serve the homeless and work to help move them out of homelessness,
3) implementing a Housing First plan, which shall include provision of necessary supportive services,
4) supporting other housing activities in the community to maximize the effectiveness of the current service agencies, and
5) educating and mobilizing community residents to directly assist the homeless, as well as advocate for changes necessary to eliminate the causes of homelessness.

2. Describe the relationship between this project and your first challenge, the project’s history, and how it is being sustained? (300 word maximum)

Addressing our large increase in homelessness is of critical concern to our community. A group of community service providers started meeting in 2000 to ensure that services for the homeless were not being duplicated and to conduct an annual Point-In-Time Survey.

The community determined at a Retreat on the Homeless held in November 2003, that only by coming together could we affect a solution to this issue. As a result of the retreat, LHOT’s mission and membership were expanded to reflect an acknowledgement that the issue of homelessness is a community-wide one impacting not only city government, but non-profit service providers as well as local businesses and the faith community. The LHOT group has been meeting at least monthly since 2003, has completed many projects and has obtained funding for ongoing services and projects.

The Housing First Program model is a reverse of the traditional human service model, which typically puts people into other programs before addressing their immediate housing need. This model meets people’s more basic need for housing first, allowing follow-up programs to be more successful.

Not many communities the size of Longmont have begun addressing the issue of homelessness, however, LHOT’s piloting of a Housing First Program has provided a resource for a neighboring community seeking to implement a similar program. In addition, the LHOT model of community participation will be used as a best practice in the seven county Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.

3. Describe the partnerships and collaborations involved in the creation, development, and implementation of this project. (300 word maximum)

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The Longmont Housing Opportunities Team (LHOT) is a collaborative partnership with over 50 members representing government, social services, shelters, housing providers, domestic violence agencies, police, mental health, school district, banks, youth services, churches, senior services, health groups, businesses, recovery programs, and private individuals.

The larger LHOT group meets monthly and has formed several subcommittees and a Steering Committee to more effectively conduct the agreed upon annual work program (more details are in the next section). Of equal importance are the collaborative partnerships formed between LHOT members. For instance, a non-profit and a church jointly sponsored a workshop for the community on job opportunities for persons with disabilities, “Out of the Shadows” Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Brain Disorders. Additionally, the emergency services organization, OUR Center, formed a partnership with the local Workforce agency to provide job search education and outreach to the Day Shelter participants.

4. Describe the qualitative and quantitative outcomes of this project in the last 3 years and explain how this project has been a success. (300 word maximum)

The LHOT group has continued to grow and adapt since its inception. Attendance at monthly meetings remains constant and new agencies and individuals join often.

Housing First
LHOT designed a Housing First Pilot Program to house 10 families over the next 24 months. All will receive support services 24/7. The families have been selected and 8 have chosen their housing.

Funding
LHOT has received over $316,000 to support the program, mental health and case management services. Longmont Housing Development Corporation and Longmont CDBG offices received funding on behalf of LHOT programs from the State Division of Housing with matching funds from the City of Longmont. In partnership with Boulder County Advocates for Transitional Housing, LHOT received funding for a joint Housing First Coordinator.

Day Shelter
A Day Shelter was opened in partnership with Longmont’s OUR Center. Since opening on June 6, the Day Shelter has served 228 unduplicated Longmont clients totaling 1,375 visits for emergency food, showers, laundry, personal care items, clothing, prescriptions, glasses, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, identification and birth certificates, mail and voice mail service. 49 obtained employment, 166 received medical screening, 61 are receiving benefits, 26 secured permanent housing.

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The visibly homeless
LHOT convened a focus group on the “visibly homeless,” leading to a partnership with Boulder County Cares program to provide outreach to “street” homeless during bad weather.

Community education/outreach
• Developed a resource pamphlet to assist the homeless in accessing services and to provide information to the community.
• Used the new 211 phone service to provide information on services.
• Sponsored a Homeless Awareness Event in 2005 which attracted over 400 persons. The author of “Under the Overpass” addressed the community. The event, held at a local church, was taped by the local public access channel which broadcasts the event.

Name the primary contact for the project. Provide name & title, organization, address, telephone, and
e-mail address. (This person may be contacted to verify information.)
Edwina Salazar Waldrip, Executive Director, OUR Center, 303 Atwood Street, Longmont, CO 80501 (303) 772-5529, edwina@ourcenter.org

PROJECT TWO (Challenge #2)
1. Project summary, name and give a brief description. (150 word maximum)

Longmont has developed a strategic Multicultural Plan designed to guide the community over a five year period (January 2003 to December 2007) in becoming a more multi-cultural, inclusive community. Community members formed a Steering Committee in 2002 and developed its vision: “The people of Longmont working together to be a caring and inclusive community—proud to embrace, respect and celebrate each other.” The Steering Committee organized its plan around category areas as follows: education; community involvement; health; housing; culture; and the economy.

One aspect of the plan, the “Tamales and Talk” model was replicated by the Boulder County Immigrant Integration Initiative due to its effectiveness in creating deeper understanding and relationships among people with different perspectives. One participant discussed her experience, “Tamales & Talk brings people together that would normally be scared to make the first move to get together.”

2. Describe the relationship between this project and your second challenge, the project’s history, and how it is being sustained? (300 word maximum)

The strategic planning process emerged from the findings of a community assessment of needs and assets among Boulder County Latino residents, which was published and released to the community in October 2001. This community was committed to addressing the needs identified in the assessment. In 2002, the Longmont City Council invited the entire Longmont community to come together to create a community-wide strategic multicultural plan to address the issues that were specific to Longmont.

During the initial phase, over 100 community members worked together to create a vision and a strategic plan that will not only establish and sustain connections with the Latino community but will also serve as a catalyst to improve our ability to work together to become a more caring and inclusive community. These members represented the non-profit organizations, community groups, interested community members, El Comité, St. Vrain Valley School District, business community, City of Longmont, Neighborhood Group Leaders Association, the Longmont Sister Cities Association and the Longmont United Hospital.

A Steering Committee and task forces were formed around each of the identified areas. The Steering Committee includes 13 community leaders and 60 additional who people volunteered to help with the task forces. These task forces are responsible for developing and carrying out the action steps needed to address the issues.

The Steering Committee is planning a half-day retreat during the first quarter of 2006 to complete a major revision of its direction, goals and action steps, and to begin discussing the future and ways to ensure sustainability of the plan. The strategic multicultural plan is only the beginning and will evolve over time, as the community continues to work together to address the ever changing needs and interests of its residents.
3. Describe the partnerships and collaborations involved in the creation, development, and implementation of this project. (300 word maximum)

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In 2001, a task force of Latino leaders throughout Boulder County released the results of its two-year assessment of the contributions and needs of the Boulder County Latino community. Through a series of community focus groups, surveys and interviews, the task force assessed quality of life issues in several areas.

The City Council invited the Latino Task Force to present the results of this assessment at the Council’s 2002 retreat. Following this presentation, the City Council set as one of its work plan goals: To create options to significantly enhance collaboration and interaction with the Latino community, and to make recommendations regarding issues related to the Latino community as outlined in the 2001 Latino assessment report.

A committee comprised of City Council members, City staff and community leaders was created in 2002 to accomplish this work plan goal. They organized a community planning process involving residents and organizations including the City of Longmont, St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont Daily Times-Call, Neighborhood Group Leaders Association, Longmont Sister Cities Association, El Comité (a Latino advocacy organization) and other non-profits and businesses.

Latino Task Force members believe that as a result of these efforts on the Multicultural Plan, Longmont has become a more inclusive community. Community members and government leaders actively seek input from the Latino community and have improved their awareness of their needs. The Multicultural Plan’s success has prompted regional interest from the City and County of Boulder, the City of Lafayette and Latino leaders in Larimer and Weld Counties. Also, the plan sparked the City of Longmont to implement more elements of the City Diversity Plan. The City instituted a bilingual pay program in 2005, additionally compensating 57 employees fluent in Spanish and American Sign Language who assist in the delivery of services.

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4. Describe the qualitative and quantitative outcomes of this project in the last 3 years and explain how this project has been a success. (300 word maximum)

Specific outcomes from the task force committees include:

Education
• Developed a Latino resource guide promoting English as a Second Language classes. As a result Intercambio De Comunidades, an ESL provider expanded to Longmont. It has served 230 residents since 2004.
• Developed a mentoring program at Skyline High School to ensure that students will be successful in their school and post-secondary education through mentoring, counseling and scholarships. 20 students and 19 mentors are currently in the program. Freshmen will be added each year.

Community Involvement
• Held 13 “Tamales and Talk” study circles in 2004 and 2005, a series of small group conversations designed to “grow involvement”. Nearly 150 participants had the opportunity to build personal networks; talk about public issues; and learn how to participate in community decision-making.
• The City Leadership Team held additional circles to discuss government initiatives, reaching 50+ people.

Health
• Longmont United Hospital hosted a “Cultural Appreciation Day” to enhance employee skills in providing health care to Latinos.

Housing
• Completed a Fair Housing Impediment study; substandard housing education efforts; and predatory lending intervention efforts. As a result, the City took on fair housing discrimination complaints, began education/outreach and established a Substandard Housing Program.
Culture
• Coordinated “Longmont Celebrates. . . Cinco de Mayo.”
• Developed a “New Americans” film/discussion series and Dia de los Muertos event with the Longmont Museum
• Sponsored a forum with the transportation district to eliminate barriers to accessing public transportation.

Economy
• Presented a program with Workforce Boulder County and the Front Range Community College to the Longmont Chamber about the economic advantages of hiring bilingual workers.
• The plan served as a catalyst leading to the creation of the Latino Chamber of Boulder County, which already has 50 members.

Name the primary contact for the project. Provide name & title, organization, address, telephone, and e-mail address. (This person may be contacted to verify information.)
Marta Loachamin, Multi-Cultural Steering Committee Chairperson, First Horizon Mortgage, 275 Main Street, Ste. 200, Longmont, CO 80501 (303) 684-7636 mloachamin@firsthorizon.com
PROJECT THREE
As a commitment to America’s Promise, the National Civic League has issued the Youth Initiative Challenge. We ask that at least one project from each All-America City applicant document ways in which the lives of children and youth have been tangibly improved.

1. Project summary, name and give a brief description. (150 word maximum)

G.R.I.P., Gang Response and Intervention Program is a proactive program designed to provide early education for youth, parents and educators in the St. Vrain Valley; and early intervention and alternatives to gang membership. GRIP utilizes two intervention strategies, a restorative justice process, provided by the Longmont Community Justice Partnership, for gang members that have committed offenses; and a 9-week early intervention program for non-offenders. Peace Circles for girls involved in gangs are also included in this approach.

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GRIP’s strategic objectives:
• Educate children as young as elementary school to prevent gang membership
• Educate parents, teachers, counselors and administrators to improve gang awareness
• Provide counseling and support for families, redirection and alternatives for gang members
• Coordinate efforts of the different agencies to effectively work as one
• Utilize a restorative justice process for juvenile offenders and an early intervention program for non-offenders

2. Describe the relationship between this project and the challenge it is addressing, the project’s history, and how it is being sustained? (300 word maximum)

In 2003, Longmont Children and Youth Resources and other agencies received data showing a significant increase in youth gang involvement. Boulder County’s statistics showed that 62% of the county’s youth incarcerations were from Longmont, and eight out of nine Boulder County gang related incarcerations involved Longmont youth. Also, Longmont Police were seeing an increase in gang related incidents as well as an increase in serious incidences involving weapons. There was also an increase in gang related graffiti or “tagging” in close proximity to parks and schools, even elementary schools. There are 13 gangs recruiting within Longmont with close to 400 members identified. Some of the gangs are home-grown and have become inter-generational (i.e. parents raising their children to be gang members), such as ESL, East Side Longmont. The community has witnessed clashes between Longmont’s “Sureno” and “Nortenos” gangs. Our greatest fear was that our gang problems would escalate to levels that we are seeing in neighboring communities, one of which had 61 gang related shootings in the first 6 months of last year.

In 2004, a task force developed the GRIP concept into a program, based and funded in Children and Youth Resources, a City of Longmont division, and appointed a coordinator with a 25 year history of mentoring Longmont youth.

GRIP works through school resource officers and the school district to identify at risk or “wanna be” gang members, as well as actual gang members. If the student has been suspended or expelled, he/she works through the GRIP program to earn their way back down the district’s “level” system.

3. Describe the partnerships and collaborations involved in the creation, development, and implementation of this project. (300 word maximum)

Over the past decade our community has reaped the benefits of numerous partnerships amongst police, non-profit agencies and service providers and private citizens. The community was able to build on this climate of cooperation and existing partnerships to form the St. Vrain Valley Gang Task Force. The Task Force developed GRIP to take a proactive approach to intervention and prevention at the earliest stages.

The partners of the Task Force include: Longmont Community Justice Partnership, Victim Offender Reconciliation Program, El Comité, Assets Initiative, Integrated Management Partnership for Adolescent Community Treatment, Alternatives for Youth, St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD), Boulder County Social Services, Boulder County 20th Judicial District, Longmont Police Gang Unit, Neighborhood and Community Resources (includes involvement of neighborhood group leaders), Longmont Children and Youth Resources, Boulder County Probation, the Department of Youth Corrections, and representatives from Twin Peaks Mall.

When the task force was formed, the partners determined that while many of these agencies were seeing a lot of the same kids, there lacked a comprehensive communication and referral structure to track kids across the agencies and coordinate their resources. GRIP has provided just such a structure to pool every resource in the St. Vrain Valley and communicate more effectively with all of the parties involved (families, courts, probation, case workers, and schools). The staff involved in these efforts has identified and started relationships with each and every gang affiliated kid in this community, and we’re building a giant safety net around them.

GRIP has recently incorporated a new approach into its intervention strategies. This will increase the number of referrals as it is a requirement of the 20th Judicial District. Summit County and the cities of Boulder and Brighton have contacted GRIP for assistance in replicating similar programs in their Colorado communities.

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4. Describe the qualitative and quantitative outcomes of this project in the last 3 years and explain how this project has been a success. (300 word maximum)

GRIP is a proactive effort to pull existing gang members “away from the fold,” one kid at a time. A counselor at a local high school praised GRIP’s success. One of his students had been heavily involved in gangs, and caused problems at school. After completing the program, this young man is back in school, staying out of trouble, and out of his gang.

The community saw how effectively the task force responded when a violent clash occurred between gang members in the Bohn Farm neighborhood. The neighbors wanted to force the gang member’s families to leave their neighborhood. GRIP responded to work with neighborhood leaders, community relations staff, and LPD to de-escalate a crisis situation. Team members held community meetings that provided resources to the neighborhood for addressing their problems long-term, and started intervention work with the teens involved and their families.

Other significant results include:
• 30 gang members have gone through the intervention program to learn resistance skills, peaceful conflict resolution, interpersonal/cultural competencies, character/life skills development. 20 have graduated; none have resumed their gang activity. 18 more are currently enrolled, and 20 others will start this spring.
• 52 gang members referred to and completed restorative justice conferences. Approximately 73% had no further contact with police
• Parent support groups/workshops have educated approximately 65 parents on gang recognition
• Education programs established for youth in seven schools—to date, over 600 kids have attended classes
• Classes provided to school counselors, teachers and administrators on developing strategies for a gang-free school
• SVVSD and Front Range Community College are helping students develop strategies for graduating and attending college.
• Students participate in music/art therapy, including “Drum Warriors”
• 15 Latino girls participated in Peace Circles at Heritage Middle School

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