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'My life just flipped': How a Colorado program is combating homelessness through work

Ready to Work is a year-long program that gives participants a job and a place to live, with the goal of finding a full-time job and housing after they graduate.
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Posted at 7:33 AM, Jun 22, 2023

SHERIDAN, Colo.— Maintaining the 14 RTD bus stops around the city of Sheridan is a weekly job for Joe Freeman.

“Make sure the bus stop is clean, accessible and usable for people,” said Freeman.

He said it wasn't easy getting here. He was incarcerated for two years, he said, and had nowhere to go when he earned parole.

Things changed for Freeman, though, when he got accepted into Bridge House's Ready to Work program.

“It’s a sustainable way to get people out of experiencing homelessness and back into an employed and housed situation in a permanent, sustained way,” Scott Medina, the Director of Community Relations for Bridge House, told Denver7.

Medina says Ready to Work is a year-long program that gives participants a job and a place to live, with the goal of finding a full-time job and housing after they graduate. It also offers wraparound services like therapy and treatment for those involved. Bridge House teamed up with the city of Sheridan in November, after it's bus stops were re-opened so workers like Freeman can maintain them.

“I got out and went straight to Bridge House and my life just flipped,” said Freeman.

The program has done the same thing for Jesse Coburn, who experienced homelessness for a period before going to jail.

He’s doing work like this for cities all around the metro.

We asked Coburn: “Do you think you'd be back on the streets if it wasn't for this opportunity or back in jail?”

“Probably,” he replied.

Brent Edgell just joined the program in April after living on the street for three years, and he feels like it's already making a difference in his life.

“I feel like what I’m experiencing here is family, and it's teaching me to be consistent, have actual job experience,” said Edgell.

“We’re helping address homelessness. We’re also keeping our bus stops clean so it's a win win for everybody,” said Andrew Rogge, Community Development Director for the City of Sheridan.

For Freeman, he's seeing the process work, and he's ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m actually getting ready to get hired full time as a City of Aurora worker,” he said.

Bridge House says it’s always looking for applicants for its Ready to Work program and is in the process of building its third housing facility in Englewood which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2024.