Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow or BOHO officially began in the spring of 2009. During that previous winter the Carriage House Community Table, a day center for the poor and homeless of Boulder, had tried to expand the shelter opportunities for homeless folks by sponsoring emergency warming centers (EWCs) in cooperation with local churches. The idea was good but the mission was beyond what Carriage House could support so a staff member of Carriage House, Jim Budd, worked to start a new organization dedicated to providing a safe, warm place for folks to sleep when conditions outside were cold and wet; thus BOHO began.

BOHO turns few people away, even those who are intoxicated are welcomed, as long as they are not threatening and do not use drugs or alcohol while on the premises. The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless serves as the primary shelter for the homeless in Boulder, but with only 160 beds and rules that restrict access to some folks, there are often many people with no place to go.

Continuing to use the space provided by local churches for folks to sleep, during the winter season of 2009-2010 Budd operated the EWCs 81 nights. He hired homeless folks to work as staff for BOHO and trained them to set up and monitor the EWC as well as clean and restore the space for church use. Most of the EWCs ran from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. and rotated among five local churches. He established BOHO as a non-profit organization and recruited a board of directors to assist with carrying forward the mission: “To provide a stable, supportive community for homeless men and women. BOHO is committed to addressing immediate survival needs by operating Emergency Warming Centers.”

After a successful first year, Budd hired and trained an Operations Manager to take over the management of the EWCs. For the 2010-2011 season, Chris Mitchell monitored the weather and decided on a day-by-day basis if the criteria will be met for opening for the night. He used the space in six churches (with one being available two nights) rotating on preset schedule. With a staff hired from among the homeless population, BOHO offered an option for rest seven nights a week when the temperature is below 32 deg F and dry or 38 deg F and wet.

The Board continues to develop organizational infrastructures that insure the viability of BOHO in support of a stable, supportive community for homeless men and women.

Plans are underway now for the 2011-2012 season. Stay tuned!

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