Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

University to host Project Homeless Connect 6

The University of Denver will host Project Homeless Connect 6 next spring, Associate Director of Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Symons announced at the Homelessness Research Symposium Sept. 14.

Project Homeless Connect (PHC), a partnership between Denver’s Road Home and Mile High United Way, is one-day event that offers homeless individuals an array of community services in one location. In April 2007 DU became the first university to host PHC, during which nearly 800 volunteers assisted 525 homeless individuals.

Symons says she was “given the green light” by Chancellor Robert Coombe last week. PHC 6 likely will be held in April. 

Planning has not yet begun, Symons says, but she anticipates the event will extend beyond the Ritchie Center.

The symposium was held to discuss what the University is doing about homelessness in Denver; three faculty members discussed research they have been working on since April. PHC 5 will be Oct. 19 at Invesco Field in Denver.

Sylvia Hall-Ellis, an associate professor in the Morgridge College of Education, has been examining evaluations completed by homeless guests and service providers. 

Housing referrals was the most helpful service, Hall-Ellis says. 

Laurie Johnson, assistant professor in the economics department, has been estimating potential health care savings. She found that 25 percent of the homeless guests said that had visited the hospital in the month prior to PHC 4.

Lisa Martinez, an assistant professor in sociology and criminology, monitored volunteers’ attitudes through tests taken before and after PHC. The majority of volunteers, of which about half were DU undergraduates, ranked their experience with PHC as excellent or good.

The survey asked for opinions on topics including whether homeless people were substance abusers, mentally ill or should be allowed to beg or panhandle. Answers showed only minor variations before and after the event, Martinez says.

Volunteers probably already were sympathetic toward the homeless from the beginning, Martinez says, which may affect results.

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