According to a 2016 point-in- time survey, 290 people in Fort Collins were identified as homeless. Of those, 21 percent said they were staying outside, in unsheltered locations. Fort Collins has emergency shelter capacity of approximately 298 beds. This Wednesday, Rotarians will hear the January 2017 point-in- time survey results, when Michele Christensen, Director of Program Development at Housing Catalyst, and Zachary Penland, Program Manager for the Redtail Ponds Permanent Supportive Housing program will cover homelessness data, as well as causes and challenges.
Christensen and Penland will also share an overview of permanent supportive housing (PSH), considered a best practice solution. Redtail Ponds, developed and managed by Housing Catalyst, is Northern Colorado’s first Permanent Supportive Housing community, offering 60 apartments for people with disabilities who have experienced homelessness. Presenters will share their experience working with residents and how why this is a best practice to end homelessness.
Michele Christensen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Colorado. She earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, and has over 25 years’ experience working in child and family welfare and with homeless families. She joined Housing Catalyst in 2005, and is responsible for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of quality of life programs and services. Michele was part of the Redtail Ponds development team and has researched best practices and supportive housing developments around the country. Michele interacts regularly with service delivery partners and negotiates agreements on service
delivery/designs and monitors contractual arrangements.
Zachary Penland has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Dakota, and has worked as a case manager and therapist for those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues through SummitStone Health Partners. He was the Director of the Murphy Center for Hope, a one-stop homelessness resource center, and serves on numerous committees’ and boards focusing on addressing homelessness in our community and region. He moved to Fort Collins in 2001, and manages day to day operations at Redtail Ponds through a multi-disciplinary staff.