In 2010, a group of individuals concerned about homelessness in the South Metro Denver area started to brainstorm about what they could do to address the issue. Soon they convened a large gathering of representatives from local government agencies, nonprofits and faith communities to identify what services were currently being provided and what the gaps were. Severe weather shelter was identified as the most pressing need.
In the same year, in response to that meeting, HAAT Force - Homelessness Awareness and Action Task Force - was founded by Peter Reif, a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch and Rev. Cammie Houpt, a Deacon at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Centennial. HAAT Force's founding mission was to provide life-sustaining severe weather motel vouchers to people experiencing homelessness in the South Metro Denver area. A Board of Directors was formed, in addition to a partnership with Giving Heart, a non-profit in Englewood. HAAT Force obtained its 501c3 status in 2012. Peter Reif passed away shortly after that, and Rev. Houpt continued her leadership of our organization until her retirement in 2020.
In 2020-2021, the all-volunteer Board of Directors managed HAAT Force's operations. We organized and managed a continuous shelter program in response to the covid pandemic, in addition to a medical motel voucher program. We expanded our scope to include referrals to resource navigators and Case Managers. In 2021, HAAT Force hired Sienna McGrath a part-time Executive Director. Apart from our Executive Director, HAAT Force remains an all-volunteer operation.
Through our partners, we also offer our guests resources such as food, Resource Navigation and Case Management.
HAAT Force provides motel vouchers during severe weather from October through April annually to the following people experiencing homelessness:
- Families with children 18 years of age and under;
- People with physical disabilities and/or medical issues;
- People with pets or service animals;
- Pregnant women;
- People recently released from the hospital in need of a place to recover;
- Vulnerable older adults.
Our severe weather criteria is:
- 32 degrees and lower and wet;
- 20 degrees and lower