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Denver pilot program connecting homeless to jobs sees success

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 20:30:27-05

DENVER – On Tuesday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addressed the Denver Day Works program’s successes and its future.

The pilot program was first introduced in November 2016, and has since connected hundreds of Denver’s homeless to the local job market.

In its pilot year, program leaders recruited a total of 462 transients, put 284 of them on worksites, and found permanent jobs for 110 homeless people. Fifteen of those full-time jobs come from within the city and county of Denver.

Michael Brodsky went through the program and no longer considers himself homeless. Instead, he recognizes the tough times he’s survived.

“Well, it depends on how far you go back,” Brodsky said.

Like many of Denver’s homeless, he found solace at the local library.

“It kept me that much closer to reality, than had it not been here,” he added.

A reality that included a roof over his head and growth opportunity.

According to Denver Human Services, 3,336 Denver transients are struggling to hold on to that reality.

Twenty-five percent of that group is experiencing chronic homelessness, 39 percent are unemployed and roughly 16.5 percent choose not to stay in area shelters.

“I started out bouncing back and forth between a few of these local shelters around here,” Brodsky said, before he learned of the Denver Day Works program. “And I looked at it and I said, 'Oh, this looks kind of interesting. Promising.'”

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Hancock addressed the programs expansion. He explained Vision 2020 will include flexible worksites, a minimal waitlist, and worksites in every city department. 

In addition, he and program partners plan to have an employee in every city department, and a project and worksite in every city neighborhood.

The two-year expansion will maintain the goal of getting people like Brodsky back on their feet.

Of course, the program only works if the participant is willing to put in the work.

“I just kept showing up, and showing up, and showing up, and showing up -- and they couldn't get me to leave,” Brodsky said.

The program has helped create a stable paycheck for Brodsky, and some place aside from a shelter in which to live.

On Tuesday, Denver7 was there as he got all his work materials together.

“We're doing a massive LED lighting retrofit. The city wants to retrofit as much of the fluorescent lighting with newer LED lighting, which is a lot more energy-efficient,” he said as he replaced a bulb.

Brodsky now works a full-time position in a place that once brought him comfort in the cold: the Denver Public Library.

“I had to rely on myself and kind of work through all of that until something happened -- until Day Works happened really,” he said.

The Denver Day Works website provides a list of hiring partners that include Bayaud Enterprises, Goodwill Industries, Revolution Foods, Hotel Teatro, King Soopers, NAPA Auto Parts, Denver Zoo, and the Denver Public Library.

Work sites include Denver Public Works, Denver Parks & Recreation, RiNo Art District, Denver Public Library, Denver Elections, Denver Botanic Gardens, Bayaud Enterprises, and 48th Avenue shelter.

You can call Bayaud Enterprises at 303-830-6885 to learn about work opportunities or to become a future employer or work site.