Homelessness

4:55-6:00pm, 1st floor

The world of the homeless is a tough and interesting world.

In this panel, attendees will hear from the people who are actively working to make sure this diverse population doesn't get left behind in an ever-expanding Denver.

PJ D'Amico, Buck Foundation

PJ currently serves as the Executive Director of the Buck Foundation, a family foundation that focuses on social justice issues and which has spent the last several years addressing chronic homelessness.  PJ brings over 25 years of experience to the nonprofit sector where he has served as an executive director, program officer in philanthropy, development officer, board member and advocate for social change at both the local and now international level.   PJ cut his teeth in grassroots community organizing on the streets of Atlanta where he lived and worked in the inner city neighborhood of Summerhill.  PJ was recently awarded a Livingston Fellowship which he utilize to help his life-long friend develop an eco-justice farm just outside of Kakamega, Kenya.  

Jason Flores-Williams, Esq.

Jason Flores-Williams, attorney and author, has spent his life on the front lines of the American condition. When he was 13, his family was ripped apart by the U.S. War on Drugs. His father sentenced to 35 years in prison, his mother, sister and him thrown into abject poverty. When he was 27, while living in a garage in San Francisco, he wrote his first novel, The Last Stand of Mr. America. He has since run his own legal practice doing landmark constitutional litigation while representing political outlaws, dissidents and whistleblowers. His writings and cases have been written about in the New York Times,Washington Post, BBC, CNN, et al. 

Marcus Harris, Bayaud Enterprises

Mr. Harris is currently employed at Bayaud Enterprises, a Denver-based nonprofit dedicated since 1969 to employment solutions for jobseekers (and employers) with barriers to employment. As Advisory Council Peer Organizer at Bayaud, Mr. Harris works with people directly affected by poverty in general, and homelessness in particular; and he, along with community/business leaders and individual stakeholders, facilitated the co-founding of People Rising Against Poverty (P-RAP) and the P-RAP Speakers’ Bureau. A native to the greater Denver metro area, Mr. Harris has also lived in Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and San Diego, CA. His interest in community organizing and advocacy began in 1989 when he began serving his first prison term – this one in Huntsville, TX. That was the beginning of the end of a lifetime of selfishness: a process and an awakening that continues to this day. 

 

RAY LAYALL, HOMELESS RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Ray Lyall, 57, homeless for two years, has worked with Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) for the past 22 months. He was arrested on October 24, along with others working on DHOL’s Tiny Homes project. Since he was released from jail, he has been camping with a group at a site in Denver at 26th and Lawrence Streets, which was raided on December 3. Lyall says the camping ban is used to target people sleeping outside and give tickets for other offenses. “Can’t have anything under or over you,” he says, explaining the camping ban. “I can lay in the freezing snow but I can’t have anything on my back.”

Denise Maes, ACLU of Colorado

Denise is the Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Colorado.  In that role, she oversees all legislative work that effects civil liberties at the State and local level.  She is the primary person overseeing all legislatives initiatives at the state Capitol during the legislative session.  Denise also sits on various municipal boards and commissions that review police and jail-related matters.  She is a frequent panelist on civil liberties-related matters. Before joining the ACLU, Denise was Director of Operations for Vice President Joe Biden. She also served as General Counsel for the Office of Administration under President Barack Obama, where she managed White House contracts and personnel issues.