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Fresh Start


An in-depth audio introduction to the Fresh Start project. I invite you to listen while looking around the page. The audio recording goes into more depth than provided below.

A survey conducted in 2018 confirmed that there are over 5,000 people living unsheltered in the city of Denver, CO. While many of Denver’s residents complain about the population taking up public park space or littering the streets, very little is being done to remedy the situation.

Fresh Start acts under a housing first policy. This is a facility that will not only accommodate those without access to stable housing but help them get out of this situation by teaching and giving them the opportunities to make a resume, hold a job, be free from chemical dependencies, etc. This will address the problem at the root instead of a provisional remedy.

Fresh Start is a step program that ends with residents holding jobs and being completely capable of living on their own. The building itself is made mostly out of shipping containers and glass and consists of a restaurant, café, common room, kitchen/dining room, workout room, daycare, large dorm, offices, suites, etc. Key features are highlighted below.

Fresh Step aligns with five UN Sustainable Development Goals. The first goal is no poverty; Our end goal is the reduction and eventual eradication of homelessness in Denver, CO. Goals numbers two and three coincide with each other; we use a housing first policy to get people off the streets and into a safe place that provides their basic necessities such as food and water and by also partnering with organizations such as the Stout Street Clinic and Planned Parenthood, we are proving the means to good health and well being. For goal eight, by the end of their time at Fresh Start, all residents will have had some type of job experience by working at our restaurant, café, or daycare. This not only gives them hands-on experience but also gives them something to put on their resumés when they apply for jobs and join the workforce. Finally, Fresh Start uses sustainable technologies for power as well as growing all of the plants and aquaculture as to eradicate the need for shipping food across the country and contributing to CO2 emissions.

SPOTLIGHT 1: Restaurant: It’s important that Fresh Start is somewhat self-sustaining. Having a functioning restaurant not only brings in revenue but it also allows for residents of Fresh Start to obtain job experience. The restaurant has three sections: The first is the aquaponics facility. All of the food comes directly from this facility. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (a system in which the root system of a plant is submerged in water). Both the plants and the fish can be harvested. Examples of plants that can be grown are lettuce, kale, herbs, tomatoes, cucumber, etc. Some of the fish that can be raised in aquaponics are tilapia, sunfish, carp, catfish, etc. The second section is the kitchen and the third is the dining area. All three sections are housed in a large glass box structure with 60ft ceilings, modeled after a greenhouse. The dining room has large trees that span from the ground to the ceiling.

SPOTLIGHT 2: Café– The café is another effort to bring in more revenue. The most profitable aspect is its drive-through. The plot of land that this would be located on has an estimated 57,000 vehicles per day passing by. An easy access drive through with fresh hot coffee will be a magnet for morning commuters. The café will also provide job experience and training to residents. 

SPOTLIGHT 3: Resident Kitchen- “One of the first life skills that we let go while in the cycle of addiction is nutrition and preparing our own food. It usually evolves to fast food or pizza at home or the food kitchen in the shelters or picking food out of the garbage. Our bodies get so desperate for some type of nourishment” -Paul Scudo, Executive Director StepDenver. The idea behind the layout of the resident kitchen is so that everyone has space to make their meals. Making your own food is such an important skill so we will not cook for our residents. We will have a nutritionist come on a weekly basis and show our residents how to plan and prepare a healthy meal as well as put together grocery lists on a budget. 

SPOTLIGHT 4: Suites- When the residents first arrive at Fresh Start, they will be in the communal room. This room consists of hostel style bunkbeds with small cabinets for storage. There is a large communal bathroom that they all share as well. This stems from the peer recovery model which focuses on building a community-together we can overcome. As residents progress through the program, they have the opportunity to move to the suites. The suites are located on the top two floors and are constructed in a suite style dorm. Each room is a shipping container with a large wall to wall window on the end. Each person has their own room but shares a bathroom. 

Link to works cited: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17L-JK6LfAksDGxyjyA4RIPBWwlDAmYdrs1-NM8u31NQ/edit?usp=sharing

What can you do?

  1. Treat folks living unsheltered like they’re people. Be kind. So often, we forget that we are all human beings. Homelessness is a situation that can happen to so many people. It can bring a sense of loneliness and can eat away at your dignity as well, so just a simple hello can really make a difference
  2. Give what you can: Keep care kits in your car; these can include food, water, basic hygiene items (especially feminine hygiene products for women), and even socks!

Have any ideas? Stories? Comment below!

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COMMENTS: 2
  1. April 28, 2019 by Anna.Lee Reply

    Hi Olivia,
    I absolutely love your presentation, it is so unique and creative! Your innovation has created a presentation that is very well thought out and gives an exact plan on how to catalyze change. A question I had was are there any other programs that are currently helping the residents of Denver as well as what has caused 5,000 residents of Denver not to have housing?

  2. April 29, 2019 by Leo.Abelson Reply

    Hi Olivia,
    Your presentation was very engaging and interactive. While reading other wordpresses I noticed that they use a lot of text but I like how you were able to make videos about your project and minimize the amount of text.

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