Adjacent to the playground at Lanyon Park in Longmont, a group of people recently sat on the benches under the shelter. They were cloaked in jackets and blankets in an effort to shut out the crisp wind that has grown cooler in recent weeks.

The group huddled together amid their belongings of clothing, bikes, tarps and other personal items. For the time being, Lanyon Park is their refuge.

Bryan Townsend was among the few people at the unenclosed shelter earlier this month.

The homeless encampment at Lanyon Park in Longmont on October 15, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Townsend said he has lived in Colorado since 2004 and has been in Longmont since 2016. He’s originally from Minnesota, he said.

In 2007, Townsend was convicted of sexual assault and attempted escape from jail, both felonies, according to online court records. He was convicted of distributing marijuana or marijuana concentrate to a minor, a felony, in 2014. He was convicted of possession of a weapon of a previous offender, a felony in 2018.

He was a participant in an Oct.18 discussion that Longmont, TGTHR and Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement recently had with people experiencing homelessness at Lanyon Park, he said.

“(The city) was very responsive,” Townsend said. “They were not belittling or negative or anything. They are actually working with us now on implementing ways to better bridge the gap between … the community (as a whole) and the homeless community.”

During the conversation, city representatives asked what he and other people experiencing homelessness need to be successful. He listed items such as food, water and places to store their personal belongings.

“It’s just like a school; everybody learns a different way,” he said. “Everybody can rise a different way, too.”

TGTHR is a countywide organization that provides services to the homeless. HOPE provides overnight services for the homeless, as well as “supportive follow-through services.”

Garrett Schilling, TGTHR’s street outreach manager, said the organization has been providing street outreach for about six months. Currently, he added, the program is only funded through March.

Townsend emphasized that if organizations lose funding, they can still support people experiencing homelessness in need.

“You can still come out and make sure that people have food, people have water, people aren’t running around and attacking the homeless because they want us out of their town,” he said. “This is their town, too.”

A different approach

Over the past year, residents near Lanyon Park have started contacting the Longmont Public Safety Department due to the burgeoning population of people experiencing homelessness in the area.

“We’ve gotten complaints, and the city as whole has been working on issues with homelessness for quite some time,” said Carmen Ramirez, Longmont community and neighborhood resources manager.

Ramirez and Sara Aerne, a master police officer with the Longmont Public Safety Department, have been working together to assist the homeless population in Longmont for years.

Aerne said people experiencing homelessness have told her there are new faces in Longmont’s community, creating an uptick in the population, because some people have been pushed out from Denver or Boulder.

“There are several fast food restaurants up there,” Aerne said. “It is easy to get back and forth to the park. The park is really the closest place for them to go, and we do have an alley problem, but the park is really our focus due to the community that lives around it.”

The homeless encampment at Lanyon Park in Longmont on October 15, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Because of ongoing efforts by Aerne and Ramirez to support the homeless population, Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez asked them to begin further planning and research to address the growing concerns at Lanyon Park, Aerne said.

The city’s new project is so new it doesn’t even have a name. Ramirez and Aerne, along with other city employees, are brainstorming ways they can work with local organizations such as TGTHR and HOPE to fill in the gaps.

“These problems have been around for a long time, and they are not going to be solved overnight,” Aerne said. “This is something that is not going to be resolved in a week or a month. We are trying to build a framework that should be able to sustain any upcoming issues in our community.”

One topic that came up during the recent conversation at Lanyon Park was how community members experiencing homelessness can get IDs, Ramirez said. They are only beginning initial conversation with the homeless community, but it’s a start.

“I think it always helps to listen to folks that are the most impacted,” Ramirez said. “This is a complicated issue, and it has impacts for everybody. Hopefully that is something we can begin to weave together and get folks to understand the impact they also have on the community.”

Aerne said she and Ramirez have spoken with a few concerned residents so far. She said they are planning more outreach to inform neighbors in the area about the program they are starting.

“We want to make sure we have everything internally solidified before we move externally,” she said.

The other side of the street

Longmont resident Rebecca Parrott has lived on Atwood Street for five years. She used to frequent Lanyon Park with her son, but as litter began filling the park and cigarette smoke billowed from the shelter, she started going to other parks.

“We stopped going to that park because of all of the smoke,” she said.

Parrott said she knows local organizations give food at the park to people who are experiencing homelessness but said that may be creating even more of a dependency.

“There are other charities in Longmont that use their food services to promote programs that do improve people’s situations,” she said.

Parrott’s next-door neighbor Janet Pearson said she has lived in Longmont for more than 50 years. She said the homeless population at Lanyon Park has only become an issue for residents in the past two years.

“I feel like it’s a miniature city there,” Pearson said.

Reinforcement through unified resources

Every Wednesday TGTHR members go to Lanyon Park to meet with people experiencing homelessness, Schilling said.

He said TGTHR provides food, clothing and hygiene products to those community members.

Schilling said the organization has been working with Longmont officials to assist them with finding the best ways to support people experiencing homelessness.

“We are working with the city to give them as much information and best practices as possible to be successful in the new program.”

Ramirez said the city’s goal is to continue working with TGTHR and other organizations that can support the people taking shelter at Lanyon Park.

“It’s identifying those needs and identifying how to connect them,” she said. “Our next steps are to pull collectively our internal folks and see where we have disconnects and where we have gaps.”

It could be anyone

Townsend said when he is at Lanyon Park, residents frequently drive by and yell at him or others experiencing homelessness. They tell him to leave Longmont or get a job.

“There’s a lot of misconception, and unfortunately people like to place blame on people who they see as less than,” he said.

When he met with the city, Townsend explained that residents blame him or his friends for graffiti in the bathroom or trash on the ground. He said there may be one or two homeless people who do things like that, but not everyone. He said all homeless are lumped together as bad.

“(People are) not afraid because I am dirty or not being afraid because I might have COVID but being afraid because they think I am going to be violent,” he said.

There are people who help and come out and talk with Townsend and others about their lives, but some people just want them out of Longmont, he said.

“There are people that grew up in Longmont who are just now homeless because of COVID,” he said. “It could have happened to anybody and it could still be them — things happen.”

Source by [author_name]

Adjacent to the playground at Lanyon Park in Longmont, a group of people recently sat on the benches under the shelter. They were cloaked in jackets and blankets in an effort to shut out the crisp wind that has grown cooler in recent weeks.

The group huddled together amid their belongings of clothing, bikes, tarps and other personal items. For the time being, Lanyon Park is their refuge.

Bryan Townsend was among the few people at the unenclosed shelter earlier this month.

The homeless encampment at Lanyon Park in Longmont on October 15, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Townsend said he has lived in Colorado since 2004 and has been in Longmont since 2016. He’s originally from Minnesota, he said.

In 2007, Townsend was convicted of sexual assault and attempted escape from jail, both felonies, according to online court records. He was convicted of distributing marijuana or marijuana concentrate to a minor, a felony, in 2014. He was convicted of possession of a weapon of a previous offender, a felony in 2018.

He was a participant in an Oct.18 discussion that Longmont, TGTHR and Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement recently had with people experiencing homelessness at Lanyon Park, he said.

“(The city) was very responsive,” Townsend said. “They were not belittling or negative or anything. They are actually working with us now on implementing ways to better bridge the gap between … the community (as a whole) and the homeless community.”

During the conversation, city representatives asked what he and other people experiencing homelessness need to be successful. He listed items such as food, water and places to store their personal belongings.

“It’s just like a school; everybody learns a different way,” he said. “Everybody can rise a different way, too.”

TGTHR is a countywide organization that provides services to the homeless. HOPE provides overnight services for the homeless, as well as “supportive follow-through services.”

Garrett Schilling, TGTHR’s street outreach manager, said the organization has been providing street outreach for about six months. Currently, he added, the program is only funded through March.

Townsend emphasized that if organizations lose funding, they can still support people experiencing homelessness in need.

“You can still come out and make sure that people have food, people have water, people aren’t running around and attacking the homeless because they want us out of their town,” he said. “This is their town, too.”

A different approach

Over the past year, residents near Lanyon Park have started contacting the Longmont Public Safety Department due to the burgeoning population of people experiencing homelessness in the area.

“We’ve gotten complaints, and the city as whole has been working on issues with homelessness for quite some time,” said Carmen Ramirez, Longmont community and neighborhood resources manager.

Ramirez and Sara Aerne, a master police officer with the Longmont Public Safety Department, have been working together to assist the homeless population in Longmont for years.

Aerne said people experiencing homelessness have told her there are new faces in Longmont’s community, creating an uptick in the population, because some people have been pushed out from Denver or Boulder.

“There are several fast food restaurants up there,” Aerne said. “It is easy to get back and forth to the park. The park is really the closest place for them to go, and we do have an alley problem, but the park is really our focus due to the community that lives around it.”

The homeless encampment at Lanyon Park in Longmont on October 15, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Because of ongoing efforts by Aerne and Ramirez to support the homeless population, Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez asked them to begin further planning and research to address the growing concerns at Lanyon Park, Aerne said.

The city’s new project is so new it doesn’t even have a name. Ramirez and Aerne, along with other city employees, are brainstorming ways they can work with local organizations such as TGTHR and HOPE to fill in the gaps.

“These problems have been around for a long time, and they are not going to be solved overnight,” Aerne said. “This is something that is not going to be resolved in a week or a month. We are trying to build a framework that should be able to sustain any upcoming issues in our community.”

One topic that came up during the recent conversation at Lanyon Park was how community members experiencing homelessness can get IDs, Ramirez said. They are only beginning initial conversation with the homeless community, but it’s a start.

“I think it always helps to listen to folks that are the most impacted,” Ramirez said. “This is a complicated issue, and it has impacts for everybody. Hopefully that is something we can begin to weave together and get folks to understand the impact they also have on the community.”

Aerne said she and Ramirez have spoken with a few concerned residents so far. She said they are planning more outreach to inform neighbors in the area about the program they are starting.

“We want to make sure we have everything internally solidified before we move externally,” she said.

The other side of the street

Longmont resident Rebecca Parrott has lived on Atwood Street for five years. She used to frequent Lanyon Park with her son, but as litter began filling the park and cigarette smoke billowed from the shelter, she started going to other parks.

“We stopped going to that park because of all of the smoke,” she said.

Parrott said she knows local organizations give food at the park to people who are experiencing homelessness but said that may be creating even more of a dependency.

“There are other charities in Longmont that use their food services to promote programs that do improve people’s situations,” she said.

Parrott’s next-door neighbor Janet Pearson said she has lived in Longmont for more than 50 years. She said the homeless population at Lanyon Park has only become an issue for residents in the past two years.

“I feel like it’s a miniature city there,” Pearson said.

Reinforcement through unified resources

Every Wednesday TGTHR members go to Lanyon Park to meet with people experiencing homelessness, Schilling said.

He said TGTHR provides food, clothing and hygiene products to those community members.

Schilling said the organization has been working with Longmont officials to assist them with finding the best ways to support people experiencing homelessness.

“We are working with the city to give them as much information and best practices as possible to be successful in the new program.”

Ramirez said the city’s goal is to continue working with TGTHR and other organizations that can support the people taking shelter at Lanyon Park.

“It’s identifying those needs and identifying how to connect them,” she said. “Our next steps are to pull collectively our internal folks and see where we have disconnects and where we have gaps.”

It could be anyone

Townsend said when he is at Lanyon Park, residents frequently drive by and yell at him or others experiencing homelessness. They tell him to leave Longmont or get a job.

“There’s a lot of misconception, and unfortunately people like to place blame on people who they see as less than,” he said.

When he met with the city, Townsend explained that residents blame him or his friends for graffiti in the bathroom or trash on the ground. He said there may be one or two homeless people who do things like that, but not everyone. He said all homeless are lumped together as bad.

“(People are) not afraid because I am dirty or not being afraid because I might have COVID but being afraid because they think I am going to be violent,” he said.

There are people who help and come out and talk with Townsend and others about their lives, but some people just want them out of Longmont, he said.

“There are people that grew up in Longmont who are just now homeless because of COVID,” he said. “It could have happened to anybody and it could still be them — things happen.”

, Longmont begins new project to address needs of homeless at Lanyon P… , Annie Mehl , 2021-10-31 19:00:51 , Boulder Daily Camera , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/DCC-L-homecamp4.jpg?w=1400px&strip=all , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/DCC-L-homecamp4.jpg?w=1024&h=665 , [rule_{ruleNumber}] , [rule_{ruleNumber}_plain] , , , https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/10/31/bridging-the-gap-longmont-begins-new-project-to-address-needs-of-homeless-at-lanyon-park/ , https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/10/31/bridging-the-gap-longmont-begins-new-project-to-address-needs-of-homeless-at-lanyon-park/ , www.dailycamera.com , https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailycamera.com%2F2021%2F10%2F31%2Fbridging-the-gap-longmont-begins-new-project-to-address-needs-of-homeless-at-lanyon-park%2F , Latest Headlines,Local News,News,Homelessness, #Longmont #begins #project #address #homeless #Lanyon