canada africa partner reservation Clients of the Colorado Coalition of the Homeless are not receiving proper care

Clients of the Colorado Coalition of the Homeless are not receiving proper care

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DENVER – Insiders are sounding the alarm about a Denver-based nonprofit that they say is not living up to its mission.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, or CCH, is one of the largest providers of housing for the homeless in the state. The organization hosts more than 2,000 people every evening in more than 20 locations. The latest fiscal report confirms that CCH brought in nearly $127 million in revenue in 2022. But former employees want city and state leaders to understand the untold story about the nonprofit, including concerns about safety, ethics and quality of care.

“The money that is funneled to the coalition does not help the clients,” says Janie Sisson, a former employee of the coalition.

Sisson told Denver7 Investigates that her decision to quit was due to the “complicity” she felt after four months with the organization.

“There were days where my co-workers were crying, I was crying driving to work, I was crying driving home. It keeps us up at night,” Sisson said.

Alex Pacheco agrees. She is also a former employee who worked for the coalition for nine months. She quit for similar reasons.

“I don’t know how you can go to sleep at night and put people in units infested with bed bugs, cockroaches and mice and still feel like you’re doing something good at the end of the day because from your perspective, it is better than being on the street,” she said.

Billy Jean is a member of Denver’s unhoused population. She told Denver7 Investigates that the streets are safer than living in a shelter.

“They’re bad, they’re rough,” she said. “There is more love here on the streets than in my own home.”

So Billy Jean decided to pitch a tent and choose the freedoms and daily challenges that come with living on a street corner over the indoor living spaces of government-sponsored housing.

Leslie Murray, a disabled man with no legs, decided to live in a CCH apartment.

At a Glance, the nonprofit’s Facebook page celebrates “40 years of creating lasting solutions to homelessness through homes, health and hope.” However, according to Murray, CCH has proven that they don’t care about their customers.

“I don’t understand why they put me on the second floor. They know I have no legs and they put me in this building,” he said. “I know they don’t care about me and no, I don’t feel safe here.”

Murray’s concerns increased after learning he had been placed on the second floor of a building where the elevator was regularly out of service.

“To me, if there’s a fire, it’s a death sentence,” Murray said.

Both Sisson and Pacheco confirmed examples of what they called unethical living standards when it came to Murray’s placement.

“There was the time a case manager had to carry this man’s wheelchair while he used the rest of his legs to limp down the stairs,” Pacheco said.

“It sucks having to crawl,” Murray said in describing the incident. ‘Humiliated. You know you don’t feel like a human being.’

Sisson and Pacheco also raised concerns around worker and staff safety.

“There are actual reports of workers being assaulted and harmed, and there has been no policy change or procedural change,” Sisson said.

“We regularly dealt with clients who were being evicted from their apartments or were in danger of being evicted because the department was so understaffed and disorganized that we couldn’t keep it together to make sure people’s rent was paid,” Pacheco said .

Denver7 Investigates asked both Sisson and Pacheco how CCH leadership would respond to their claims.

“I think the leadership of CCH will unfortunately avoid the truth at all costs because the lies are the only thing that has protected them so far,” Sisson said.

Denver7 Investigates put together a 14-minute video for CCH CEO Britta Fisher about the concerns of former staff and customers. Both Sisson and Pacheco said the CEO was already aware of these issues.

“I also know that CEO Britta Fisher is aware of our concerns and the reason I know that is because I sat directly across from her while my entire department expressed their concerns to her in a meeting,” Sisson said. “You should be ashamed.”

We asked the CEO what she thinks about the issues raised.

“I am very saddened that the client does not feel cared for,” Fisher said. “It concerns me. I am the CEO of an organization that respects the inherent dignity of every person. And to hear that people feel like this hasn’t happened or isn’t happening… that’s hard and it hurts my heart.”

Fisher also pledged to share the concerns uncovered by Denver7 Investigates with her senior leadership and address Murray’s housing situation.

“I will absolutely stay tuned to ensure that every accommodation that we can make has been made,” Fisher said. “I’m not going to tell them that tomorrow will be 100% better. But by working together, I absolutely believe we can continue to improve this organization because it’s already doing great things.”

Since the interview, CCH has addressed the safety issues raised in our report by deploying additional safety staff and establishing a new incident reporting system.


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