DENVER — A Denver program to address homelessness does not have an overarching, strategic plan nor community-wide performance metrics to ensure success, according to an audit released Thursday by Denver Auditor Timothy O'Brien.
O'Brien conducted the audit on "Road Home," the Denver program that oversees the city's investments into tools that help people experiencing homelessness.
"We [Denver] could be using our resources more effectively with possibly better results if we had a comprehensive citywide strategy, defined leadership and more specific goals to define success," O-Brien said.
Homelessness in Denver is driven by a lack of affordable housing, prevalence of mental health issues and data-related challenges, according to O'Brien. The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative identified 3,445 individuals experiencing homelessness in 2018.
The city budgeted about $37 million for homelessness in 2018 and $51 million for 2019.
O-Brien's audit also found that understaffing makes it difficult for employees to devote enough time and attention to strategic plan and policy development, and that a dedicated data analyst is needed to continually track homelessness.
The program has made strides through collaborative efforts with local shelters and other divisions within Denver Human Services and other city agencies. But O'Brien said sometimes partnerships are fragmented and could be more effective with a strategic plan in place.
“A more comprehensive strategy, well-defined performance measures and aligned staff and community resources could lead to real improvement when it comes to addressing homelessness,” O’Brien said.
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