Skip to main content
Denver nonprofit adapts as vulnerable populations bear the brunt of the pandemic
Email share

DENVER — For nearly 50 years, Denver nonprofit Warren Village has been helping single-parent and low-income families achieve financial independence and “economic self-sufficiency.”

It’s a tall task, one that has been made harder by the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected lower-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness.

“The goal, really, is bringing in people who are homeless or unstably housed and providing them first with safe and affordable housing, and stacking on top of that supportive services for adults which really is about college attainment or workforce certification attainment,” said Ethan Hemming, President and CEO of Warren Village. “And while they’re working on that, finding supportive care and education for their littlest kids, from zero to five [years old].”

Hemming said the COVID-19 pandemic has “dramatically changed” how Warren Village operates.

“And of course it’s changed the circumstances that our residents are living in,” he continued, “and particularly that of our alumni—those who have left us—how they have been living has been dramatically affected.”

Warren Village staff said that because of the challenges presented by the pandemic, residents are staying 6-12 months longer than normally expected.

Colorado Voices

Warren Village

3:33
Published:

Warren Village exists so low-income, single-parent families can succeed.

Fifty percent of Warren Village’s working residents have lost their jobs during the pandemic, and 39% of the nonprofit’s alumni have had their hours reduced. For those alumni that are currently in school, over 40% reported that they are struggling with online learning.

Jami Helmig knows first-hand how impactful Warren Village can be. She is one of the nonprofit’s many alumni.

“Warren Village, to me, means new opportunities to grow as an individual while also navigating adulthood—parenthood specifically—and learning how to be the best you can in society alongside also raising small children,” said Helmig.

“If it weren’t for Warren Village I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now,” she continued. Helmig recently earned an associate’s degree as a physical therapist’s assistant during her time with Warren Village.

“All things are possible when we are open to getting support,” she said.

Jessie Torres is the Peer Resource Navigator at Warren Village. The peer resource program is new for the nonprofit. The positions were created to provide help to alumni "through the transition away from Warren Village, as well as unexpected circumstances that arise like COVID-19."

One of Torres' goals is to show people that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of.

“If I can help them, that means the world to me,” Torres said. “And not only that, I’m raising a young man. I want to show him how important it is and how good it makes you feel to help people.”

Rocky Mountain PBS Spotlight

Community stories from across Colorado and updates on your favorite PBS programs, every Tuesday morning.