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Burnes Center

Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness

News and Media

Founder Don Burnes discusses Permanent Camps and the GIve Us Dirty Work Program in Durango

"Permanent camps can help homeless people establish a sense of community and networks of support that they need, said Donald Burnes, founder of the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness at the University of Denver. But camps need to be self-governed and have basic infrastructure, such as toilets and trash disposal, to function well." Check out the full article here

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the City of Houston for citing homeless people under its new camping ban.

"The plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are subject to a credible threat of being arrested, booked, prosecuted and jailed for violating the City of Houston's ban on sheltering in public. The evidence is conclusive that they are involuntarily in public, harmlessly attempting to shelter themselves—an act they cannot realistically forgo, and that is integral to their status as unsheltered homeless individuals. Enforcement of the City's ban against the plaintiffs may, therefore, cause them irreparable harm by violating their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment due to their status of "homelessness."

The order can be viewed here.

Founder's Letter makes it in New york times magazine

Read Founder and Board Chair, Don Burnes' letter to the editor in the New York Times Magazine regarding the Mortgage Interest Deduction and its impact on inequality in America.  

Burnes Center work making the news in Adams county Colorado

Last Fall the Burnes Center completed an assessment of the homeless system in Adams County. Read more here about our work and what local government is now planning to do in order to better address issues of homelessness.

Burnes Center Intern, Michelle Crandell, and Founder and Board Chair, Don Burnes, Interviewed on Colorado & Company

Check out Michelle and Don's Interview here!

Founder and BoARD CHAIR Don burnes interviewed ON KGNU BOULDER 

Didn't get a chance to listen in on Miriam Schiff interviewing Don Burnes about homelessness in Metro Denver? Well here's your chance to hear the full interview online!

Listen to the interview

Veterans Benefit from Homeless Efforts but Families Still Need Help

Dr. Burnes says public needs more passion towards ending homelessness: An interview with Amy Miller from Detroit radio station, WDET July 14, 2016

Listen to the interview

Homelessness Expert: Portland's Efforts Are Admirable, But Not Enough

Dr. Burnes explains what he means as he speaks with Oregon Public Radio.

Listen, and read the article.

An Interview with David DiLeo

Burnes Institute interns Genevieve Flynn and Rachael Sheaffer had the opportunity to talk with author and co-editor of the upcoming book, Ending Homelessness: Why We Haven't, How We Can. Dave co-edited this work with our own Executive Director, Donald Burnes.

What made you, a humanities professor, want to be the co-editor for a book dedicated entirely to the topic of homelessness?

I became interested in the subject after reading the article, “Getting What We Deserve” by Leroy Pelton and considering the commonly held view that people are in poverty because they deserve to be there. I think the problem of homelessness is embedded in our culture and in the way we judge. It’s a social construct; and it is also a function of the way we think about history. As a humanities professor, I had something to say about the subject; and I “worked backwards” to address the way we think about poverty in our culture.

What was your perspective on homelessness prior to co-authoring the book? How has your perspective on homelessness changed?

I think my perspective was that homelessness was a problem without a solution, because it is so embedded in society’s belief systems and functions. I saw homelessness and poverty as functions of wealth. It soon dawned on me that the solution to the problem is not within our system. It needs to come from outside of capitalism. As I was involved with this book and reading the expertise of the authors, I was amazed at how little I knew on the subject. My takeaway after working on this book is that the complexity of this issue is astounding. I realized the kinds of services that are needed, the kinds of funding that need to be sourced, and the kinds of coalitions that need to be built in order to solve this problem.

What do you think are some of the most innovative or promising policies and practices presented in the book for ending homelessness?

Two concepts that stuck out to me are “wraparound services” and “Housing First.” Wraparound services address the complexities of the issue, while the Housing First model acknowledges the idea that it is hard to treat people [for substance use disorders and mental illnesses] on the streets. I recently read a book about Eric Clapton, and learned that it took him several stints in rehab to reach sobriety. If he, a man with a large support network and millions of dollars, has difficulty doing it, how can we expect those living on the streets to do it before they are allowed to access housing?

What is one thing you think people can do in their everyday lives to help address the issue of homelessness?

During the civil rights era in the U.S. we had to examine our bigotry and examine historic and cultural prejudice. I think we need to do this in order to solve homelessness as well. We need to address our own bigotries and reject the easy embrace of stereotypes, the warm embrace of rationalizations. We need to address the self-referential claim of superiority that many of us have when we see someone living in poverty. I think language is very important as well. Consider the movement for the legality of same-sex marriage, which gained a lot of ground after the language was shifted to describe it as marriage equality. When we talk about homelessness, we aren’t talking about some permanent condition that defines a person, we are talking about the invisible citizens of our society who have rights and entitlements in this world just as anyone else does. We need to recognize that the way we permit homelessness on our streets is an injury and an injustice to our values as a society.