Homeless coalition employees complain about working conditions

David Heitz

Photo byDenver Homeless Out Loud

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Employees in the trenches at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless say working conditions have deteriorated due to heavy caseloads and unrealistic expectations.

Several employees created a Change.org petition directed at Coalition CEO Britta Fisher. In it, they demand a town hall meeting with Fisher before the end of June. They say their wages are so low they qualify for many of the programs the Coalition administers.

In an email to NewsBreak, Chief Communications Officer Cathy Alderman said many employees recently received raises. “Prior to Britta joining CCH, we did update the salaries for many positions within the organization, offered a generous cost of living (COLA) increase, and re-adjusted our minimum wage to $20 per hour in advance of the increase to Denver’s minimum wage. We certainly recognize that staff retention and turnover can be a burden on staff, and we are working on filling our Chief Human Resources Officer role so we can get stronger recruitment and retention strategies in place.”

Alderman said the Coalition also will re-implement staff meetings with Fisher in June, “and we hope to be able to provide a more productive space to have broad conversations with staff at all levels within the organization about our programs, staffing, housing, healthcare, and the status of the homelessness crisis.”

Employees complain of ‘highly bloated caseloads’

Coalition employees state in the petition that they face:

  • “Highly bloated caseloads
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Inadequate training
  • Constant turnover
  • Staffing shortages
  • Precarious working conditions
  • Departmental dysfunction
  • Communication failures between staff and leadership.”

Labor shortages impact non-profits

Alderman said other homeless services providers in the region also struggle to keep positions filled. “We also know that the impact of increased homelessness, labor shortages, and funding restrictions are impacting many homeless service providers in our community, and we hope to work with our local, state, and federal partners to implement strategies, policies, and funding solutions that can address these challenges more broadly and more sustainably.”

The Coalition employees concluded their petition on a positive note, saying they’re “excited” to work with Fisher. “We are very excited by the great experience you bring to this role – and particularly your legacy as a fierce advocate for the people we serve. We therefore look forward to the opportunity to partner with you in improving outcomes for CCH program staff and beneficiaries alike.”

Petition tallies 139 signatures

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had 139 signatures. Alderman said she does not know if all of the signatures are Coalition employees. “We were recently made aware of the petition and our new CEO, Britta Fisher, and other executive team members offered to speak with the staff that started the petition, but they have not responded to that offer,” she said in an email to NewsBreak. “The issues in the petition have not been raised formally through CCH channels of communication but rather only through this public website so it’s difficult to respond or even know if the people who have signed on are all CCH staff members. As an organization, we’re committed to addressing the concerns of staff across all of our departments on an ongoing basis as the organization continues to grow and the crisis of homelessness continues to increase.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at NewsBreakDave@gmail.com

Denver, CO

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