It’s far more likely that someone will be able to pull themselves out of poverty if they have a home base where they can store perishable groceries, sleep through the night safely, take a shower and charge their phone. That’s why, in 2017, Boulder’s city council approved a homelessness strategy that prioritizes permanent housing by funding vouchers for rental assistance and sponsoring financial-education programs. As of December 2020, that effort has seen more than 1,000 homeless people successfully housed.

Detractors of such programs often point to the financial burden, but it’s actually less expensive than leaving someone without a home. Boulder County’s Permanent Supportive Housing Study indicates the city spends roughly $43,300 per year on each homeless person to pay for emergency shelter, medical emergencies, time spent in jail and other factors. Providing an apartment only costs $11,700 per year, and it sets someone up for self-sufficiency down the road.