Glenwood Springs activist Debbie Wilde provides insight into Built for Zero educational series on homelessness

Roaring Fork Built for Zero is presenting a virtual education series designed to guide Glenwood Springs in developing solutions for those experiencing homelessness.

Glenwood Springs community activist Debbie Wilde, is leading the series.

Wilde was hired in spring 2019 by the city to delve into the complexities of the city’s homelessness issues and work on providing resources and support in a more robust manner.

Wilde said the number of people experiencing homelessness in Glenwood Springs and Garfield County is unclear.

“Our only way to gage this in the past has been through an under-resourced point in time count,” Wilde said.

“That is a count taken on one night, on a designated day in January.”

Wilde said the count in 2020 at shelters that provided a place to stay for the homeless during a cold weather night was 51.

The count in 2020 was a count of cold weather overnight shelters only and the number was 51.

“Although every other year, the point in time count tries to capture numbers beyond just cold weather overnight shelters, the 2021 count for our region was not considered a useful estimation because of the difficulty the pandemic added,” Wilde said.

Wilde said moving people to another community won’t be the focus of any solution.

“We are focused on dealing with the foundational elements of the experience of homelessness—moving people down the road is not a solution for those experiencing homelessness, for Glenwood Springs or for any other community,” Wilde said. “Other communities are welcome to learn from Glenwood Springs just as Glenwood Springs will be learning from what other rural communities have learned and successful solutions they have implemented.”

Wilde said Wednesday’s educational event will open up the discussion about homelessness and try to provide answers in order to come to a solution for the community.

“The good news is other people are here and have been here, a lot of things have been tried,” Wilde said. “There’s a lot of information about what worked and what didn’t work.”

Wilde said she’s spent the last two years trying to understand what’s going on in Glenwood Springs, in relation to those experiencing homelessness.

“In the last couple years I’ve been looking into what is happening in our town, bringing in information and ideas, and doing a lot of networking,” Wilde said, noting that before 2019, homelessness in Glenwood Springs seemed easier to ignore.

Wilde said she hopes to focus on the system of trying to access resources, especially those struggling with mental issues or substance abuse.

“If you’ve gone through the system of trying to access resources, imagine that you don’t even have a home or a space to land,” Wilde said. “You’re always dealing with wondering what you’re going to eat any given day, or whether all the pieces of your home are going to be there when you get back to it.”

Built for Zero is the presenting group for the series, and will be looking at that methodology while moving those experiencing homelessness towards housing and other services.

“It’s really fascinating what people think about homelessness. We’ll have some polling and have an avenue for people to express their thoughts,” Wilde said.

“We have a disconnect of what’s our end goal and what we’re doing to get to that place.

It’s getting us out of those things. The real thing I’ve learned overall is I’m interested in real movement, change and if that’s not working for what are we going to do about it.”

Wilde said that she wants the complaining and ignoring to end when it comes to homelessness.

“Let’s spend money in a different way that gets us to a different end,” Wilde said.

The first session is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and will be held virtually. To register for the event, go to

The series will be translated in Spanish in real-time.

For more information on Built For Zero, go to

If you go…

Session 1: Homelessness 101

6-7:30 p.m. on May 19

Session 2: Best Practices

6-7:30 p.m. on June 16

Session 3: Pathways Forward

5:30-7:30 p.m. on July 21

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or

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