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Solving homelessness key to success in multiple national priorities

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) "Opportunity Starts at Home," a short documentary film released this week by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, exposes how housing affordability is central to other national priorities, including health care, food security, education and more.

Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Coalition, said having a safe place to eat, bathe and sleep at night is the foundation upon which every other aspect of our lives depends.

"It is very difficult to maintain employment, or to maintain attendance at school, if you don't have a home," Alderman explained. "It's very important for your health and for your mental health to have a stable place to be."

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The film release is part of a national campaign aiming to open a window for communities, and politicians, to see the far-reaching impacts of the housing crisis, especially on children. As the gap between rents and incomes continues to grow, the campaign wants to correct long-standing racial inequities preventing access to affordable, quality housing for families with low incomes.

The film can be screened online on the Coalition's YouTube channel.

According to the most recent data, 18,000 children on average experience homelessness each year in Colorado. Because getting an accurate count can be challenging, Alderman pointed out the actual number could be much higher.

"Because those are oftentimes the people that are sleeping in their cars, and they often don't want to be found and counted," Alderman noted. "Because they have fears about being separated, or losing custody of their children."

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The Coalition is planning additional public events in an effort to convince voters, and their elected representatives in Congress, ramping up federal funding for affordable housing to pre-Reagan administration levels is necessary to meet current and future needs.

Alderman emphasized investments in housing are also investments in children's educational achievement, economic opportunities for families and so much more.

"We need to be investing more in housing and homelessness resolution if we want to achieve better outcomes in the education system, in our health care system, in our criminal-justice system, etc.," Alderman stressed.