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RTD's lone homeless outreach coordinator looks back at first year on the job

Alton Reynolds works with RTD and the Jefferson Center to connect people who are unhoused to long-term resources.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — For a big job, you need a big voice. Alton Reynolds has both.

"Hey there, my name is Alton," he bellowed up an embankment near the Sheridan RTD station. "I got water and Gatorade. Anyone interested?"

Reynolds is the homeless outreach coordinator at RTD. His official title is "something like RTD Case Manager Navigation," but he said he doesn't use that formality very often. Instead he's known as the guy helping people experiencing homeless at rail and bus stations across eight counties. 

"I have traveled up and down rail and buses on my own private time seeing what’s going on," the former RTD bus driver said. 

He spends his day contacting unhoused people at stops and stations. Reynolds hands out his business cards like candy, can give out bus and rail passes to people who need them, and provides "goody bags" with socks and snacks. 

"Call me on my cell phone, that's my fastest one," he tells one group of people. "I respond like a firecracker. Boom!" 

This kind of energy comes in handy; Reynolds is a one man operation. Reynolds technically works for the mental health services provider Jefferson Center and is contracted with RTD. He credits the center for helping him form connections with nonprofit providers across the region -- so he can almost always have an answer when someone asks him for a resource, no matter the location.

The people he encounters will have to eventually leave RTD property. His job is to help people who are unhoused find resources like housing and employment first.

"Lets put our energy into trying to find out a solution that can be more sustainable rather than just moving the issue just down the tracks," he said. 

Reynolds' success starts with the way he approaches people. "Treat people how you would like to be treated," he said. "If I’m struggling, I’d appreciate somebody saying 'Hey, I got a way to help you out.'"  

He's found that helping people with decency can give them hope and set them toward a new destination in life. 

"If we can treat people like we want to be treated, that’s the first big hump that’s sometimes different from my approach," he said. "All I want is communication. We can start there and then we’ll figure out the rest."


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