Alton Reynolds shares RTD homelessness outreach efforts: “Transportation is the great connector”

Tara Broghammer

Alton Reynolds began his work as an outreach coordinator for those experiencing homelessness on behalf of RTD in January 2022. Alton is uniquely qualified for the role having been a RTD bus operator for five years, when he often served as the “world’s quickest counselor” for customers on his vehicle. RTD featured Alton two years ago, when he started the homelessness outreach role. Since then, he shares an update about his community work and partnership with RTD Transit Police, and why he is excited that RTD will hire four more homeless outreach coordinators this year. 

What should people know about RTD’s homelessness outreach? 

This is a community issue that affects everything: The city, county and state. Transportation is the great connector and as RTD continues to collaborate on addressing issues across the district, the goal to find sustainable solutions will be realized. I try my best to help those experiencing homelessness. 

What do you do in your role as a homeless outreach coordinator on behalf of RTD? 

I collaborate closely with RTD departments including Light Rail, Bus Operations, Safety, and Transit Police to address areas of concern regarding the unhoused and others in our community. I start by offering information and resources to those impacted by homelessness and begin the process of finding housing through the state of Colorado’s system. If there remains a concern for safety, those who are homeless are advised to leave an area while I still offer resources. 

Would you describe your work as a liaison between individuals who are homeless and RTD, and how the agency’s transit services can improve connections for those experiencing homelessness? 

RTD spans 40 municipalities and eight counties, and that expanse is helpful to connect people to community programs. RTD has been pivotal in researching connections with me through surveys, conferences, and national meetings to discuss transportation’s role with the vulnerable homeless population. 

How do you partner with RTD Transit Police in your role? 

When I receive information about an area of concern, I contact RTD Transit Police about the location and we try to address the issue. I will inform people of resources and support but also advise them that law enforcement will have to clear areas after a notification to vacate for safety and security reasons. 

RTD plans to hire four additional homeless outreach coordinators in 2024. What can you share about the plans to broaden homelessness outreach? What do you want to accomplish? 

I am excited that there will be more outreach coordinators expected. This has been a position that I have been growing for the past couple of years with the support of RTD, the Jefferson Center for Mental Health (JCMH), and the community at large. The plan is to assign a homeless outreach coordinator to different areas across the district mirroring the RTD Transit Police districts. 

The goal is to have individuals with established agency relationships in each area to better facilitate complete, wrap-around services from just introducing people to resources. We will work to connect an individual to resources and begin the process of also establishing housing, rehabilitation, or any other areas of concern. 

What do you find most rewarding about your role? 

I still find it satisfying when I can help a person with resources, but I find it also rewarding when I see the great support, I receive from RTD, JCMH, and the community.

By Tara Broghammer