In 1987, after the oil bust in Colorado, many other companies in Colorado closed, resulting in the loss of many jobs. Resolution Trust Corp (RTC) Savings and Loan closed because of over-extending on loans that could not longer be paid back. This created 14,000 HUD home properties in the Denver Area.
This was the first time that Connie Zimmerman saw homeless families with children living on the streets or in their cars. These families were the “New Poor”, who for the first time found themselves to be homeless. They had education, training and skills, but no jobs were available to match with their experience. Many were able to get low paying jobs but could not keep up with raising cost of living, including housing.
Colorado Homeless Families (CHF) is a non-profit transitional housing organization that was incorporated in January 1987 by the founder, Connie Zimmerman and her husband, Larry Zimmerman. During the first three years, CHF was organized and directed entirely by the volunteer Board of Directors and the Zimmerman family in the family home. CHF began by renting six properties from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for homeless families. Since that time, CHF has expanded from these six properties to 47 properties that we own and maintain for homeless families in a transitional housing program. Nineteen of these homes were previously owned by HUD, but later were purchased by CHF. Ten townhomes, known as Ralston Gold, were purchased from RTC and used as transitional homes for homeless families with children with one unit serving as the CHF office. Twelve more townhomes were built at the Ralston Gold Complex. Construction began in May 1995 and was completed in September 1996.
In 1995-1996 at the Ralston Gold Complex, CHF built a Family Education and Resource Center which also houses the CHF offices. This building has enabled our staff to work more professionally and efficiently, as well as provide a place for our families to be educated, counseled and supported on their road to self-sufficiency.
In 2003, an expansion project of 3 duplexes was begun, and included 3 units with 2 bedrooms and 3 units with 3 bedrooms. Each unit has 1+ baths, a family/living room and a kitchen. Each unit has a garage as required by the City of Arvada for off street parking. The construction of the first duplex was started and completed in the Fall of 2002. The second duplex was started and completed in the Fall of 2003. Each of these duplexes were built with volunteers coordinated by HomeAid Colorado working with a professional Denver area Home Builder.
In November 2004, the volunteers of HomeAid Colorado and the Television Show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition built the final duplex of the expansion project, completed a week before Thanksgiving. Now two more homeless families that had been living in shelters or with friends had a home to call their own while living in the Colorado Homeless Families transitional housing program. At the same time as the construction of this final duplex was going on, a recreational area with a basketball court donated by the Pepsi Foundation, a playground with nearby picnic tables, and a fully landscaped yard and park area was completed.
With the completion of the expansion project, CHF is able to serve 47-72 families each year or approximately 170 to 225 individuals daily.
Our Mission: To provide transitional housing and supportive services for homeless families with children in the Metro Denver area (7 counties) and to help them become self-sufficient within 18 months to two years.