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Miscellaneous

Homelessness in Colorado: Denver Ballot Issue 303

Homelessness in Colorado: Denver Ballot Issue 303

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Just a few weeks ago, Denver residents were asked to vote on Denver Ballot Issue 303. A YES vote on the ballot measure would have required the city to perform enforcement sweeps of unauthorized camping sites within 72 hours of a complaint being filed, while also creating a process for individuals to bring a civil action against the city if they failed to do so. The ordinance would also have limited camping on public property to four designated areas which the city would have been responsible for servicing with utilities.

While Denver residents ultimately voted NO on Ballot Issue 303, even if it had succeeded at the polls, the 72-hour requirement would have violated a federal order issued this past January, which requires seven days’ notice prior to performing a sweep of camping sites within the city.

Regardless of the political motivations and ultimate outcome of Ballot Issue 303, Denver, along with many cities within the United States, is facing a severe homelessness crisis. Every year, the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (the “MDHI”) conducts a “Point in Time Count” to estimate how many individuals are experiencing homelessness within the city. The 2021 data shows a 40% increase in the number of individuals staying in a shelter on a single night, while the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time doubled. According to the Denver Rescue Mission, more than 1,561 individuals are unsheltered, living on the streets or camping in open areas.

Finding an effective solution for reducing homelessness has proven to be a complicated and enduring issue. Over the past decade, Denver has seen rent and home values rise while the number of people moving to the city continues to increase. This has led to a dramatic decrease in the availability of affordable housing within Denver, and Colorado as a whole. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for every 100 of Colorado’s lowest income households, there are only 30 affordable rental units available. 

One promising solution the city has implemented has been the construction of Safe Outdoor Spaces, which consist of authorized camping sites serving around 50 people. The sites feature heated tents, staff members, and utilities such as hot water, laundry, and trash removal. While many residents support the city-run sites, conversations often turn on where the sites should be placed, and who should qualify for the program. Many of these conversations are difficult and uncomfortable, as people attempt to balance an empathetic response with an effective and long-lasting solution.

Despite the challenges, these difficult conversations must continue if we are to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness within Denver. While we may not all agree on the best solutions, there is no question that homelessness is a heartbreaking condition that we must all work together to alleviate. More funding will likely be needed for healthcare services, particularly in respect to mental health, and ensuring that residents have access to affordable housing will continue to be a paramount issue moving forward. While the Safe Outdoor Spaces may be one potential option, constructing a few sites that can hold 50 people each won’t be enough to dramatically decrease the number of people experiencing homelessness. Together, we can work towards a pragmatic and compassionate response to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are provided with a chance to succeed.

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Chapter 11 bankruptcy code generally provides businesses with avenues and protections to reorganize and restructure obligations. This form of bankruptcy is very often more favorable than chapter 7 bankruptcy because it allows business owners to stay in the driver’s seat while attempting to negotiate a plan that complies with the bankruptcy code. In contrast, filing a chapter 7 petition results in full relinquishment of control of the business and the appointment of a third-party trustee whose primary obligation to is to liquidate estate assets for the benefit of unsecured creditors.

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B Corp

Why Would a Law Firm Care to be a 1% for the Planet Member?

Why Would a Law Firm Care to be a 1% for the Planet Member?

Chris Mendenhall

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We are a law firm. We are not an organization working hard to legislate, educate, and raise money for environmental causes. Yet, we live on this planet, too. It is our home. And just like mom shouldn’t be the only one responsible for cleaning the kitchen, we all have a responsibility to care for our home. We can all do our part to reduce our carbon footprints, drive less, recycle more, waste less, etc., but how can we make an even greater impact?

In 2002, Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia clothing) and Craig Mathews (founder of Blue Ribbon Flies) started 1% for the Planet to give businesses a way to make that greater impact by donating 1% of their revenue to environmental organizations.  These are organizations that are doing the heavy environmental lifting, dedicating their services, products, and missions to safeguarding our resources while still contributing to the economy and their communities.  This idea quickly took hold at a global level and today, there are more than 3,000 individual and business members putting their money where their mouths are and supporting approved environmental nonprofits.  Here’s how it works.

On the donor side, any individual or business can become a member.  Businesses pledge to donate 1% of their sales or revenue and individuals pledge to donate 1% of their salaries.  Contributions can be financial or via other in-kind donations like volunteer time, approved promotional support, mentorship, or pro bono services.  Membership dues to 1% for the Planet and certain other organizations also count toward contributions.  For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on business partners since that’s what we are.

Recipients of this support are nonprofit partners who are proven to be advancing the causes in one of these core issue areas: climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife.  Any environmentally-focused nonprofit may apply for membership, or a business member may recommend new nonprofits for consideration.  New applicants are evaluated to ensure they meet the criteria and values of the organization, and thousands of approved nonprofit partners from over 60 countries comprise the current network.

After becoming a member, a business may choose which nonprofits they would like to support from that wide network.  We can choose one organization or many, and organizations are searchable on the website by name, location, and/or issue.  Our firm has chosen organizations that are either local or are somehow within our network of changemaking individuals.  As a firm, we are in still in the process of finalizing our donations for this year, based on the interests, passions, and concerns of the individuals who work here.  Our Corporate Social Responsibility Committee members have done the initial narrowing of candidates, but every teammate has a voice.  Last year, our firm contributed to such worthy organizations as A Growing Culture, Denver Urban Gardens, Cottonwood Institute, Cal-Wood Education Center, Conservation Colorado, The Leatherback Trust, and B Lab.  B Lab is a double whammy for us because it is the organization that certifies companies as B Corporations, of which we are also one!  For more information on B Corporations, see my last blog where I share why we’re proud to be using our business as a force for good.

Milgrom & Daskam is a group of talented lawyers and staff helping businesses navigate the legal challenges of doing their work, but we are also happy, outdoorsy, proactive people who care about the world we live in.  Our dedication and commitment to tying what we do for our clients to what we can do for our planet is what sets us apart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LEGAL ADMINISTRATOR

Chris’s life has meandered far from her degrees in sociology and elementary education from the University of Colorado but has now come full circle with the many years she put in as an administrator in the legal field.  After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and many subsequent years volunteering and working within the Boulder Valley School District, Chris operated a successful freelance office services business for a variety of clients, including Milgrom & Daskam.  Chris is happy to have now joined Milgrom & Daskam officially as the firm’s Legal Administrator.

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