Therapist, social worker Rydin announces Littleton council run

Addressing mental health needs through housing, partnerships a focus

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/11/21

Gretchen Rydin, a therapist and social worker, has announced her candidacy for Littleton's at-large city council seat this fall. Rydin, 37, said in an interview that she hopes to bring her background …

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Therapist, social worker Rydin announces Littleton council run

Addressing mental health needs through housing, partnerships a focus

Posted

Gretchen Rydin, a therapist and social worker, has announced her candidacy for Littleton's at-large city council seat this fall.

Rydin, 37, said in an interview that she hopes to bring her background in crisis counseling to city leadership.

“Is this city equipped to handle the mental health challenges that will arise in the post-pandemic era?” said Rydin, who works as a behavioral health clinician at AllHealth Network, with a focus on addiction and trauma recovery. “The pandemic isn't over. We're in a new normal, and we need leadership that understands that. People are grieving — not just for lost loved ones, but for job and housing losses.”

Rydin said her colleagues at AllHealth Network have already seen success in their ongoing partnership with Littleton Police, with clinicians riding along with officers to respond to calls that involve mental health crises.

“It can be messy and complicated, but it works,” she said. “I'd like to strengthen those mental health partnerships with local agencies and our police and schools.”

Another aspect of community mental health, Rydin said, is affordable housing.

“Stable housing is a foundational need,” she said. “If someone is worried about housing, they're not focused on their mental health, and that can hurt their jobs, their kids, and the community. Diverse housing types are necessary so Littleton can continue to be a community of families, singles, retirees and everyone who makes up the workforce.”

Rydin rents an apartment in north Littleton and hopes to buy a home, but said it's tough to do so in Littleton.

“Everything is going for above asking price,” she said. “We're seeing what it means with schools closing or consolidating as families move away or can't move here in the first place.”

An inclusive housing ordinance that mandates or incentivizes builders to incorporate affordable housing would go a long way toward achieving housing goals, she said.

Traffic congestion is tied to housing prices, Rydin said, adding that as Littleton's workforce is pushed into living farther away, traffic gets worse.

“I also want to address both equity and traffic congestion by being a strong advocate with RTD,” Rydin said. “We need affordable, useful public transit. Not everyone can afford a car.”

Regarding Littleton's capital-projects budget crisis that could see city council refer several tax increase measures to the ballot this November, Rydin said she will withhold judgment until she sees the measures — but said council should focus on long-term strategies to keep similar crises from happening again.

“We need a diversified and modernized revenue stream,” she said. “Society is beginning to shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles, so relying on a gas tax isn't an economical solution.” (Littleton's capital-projects fund draws much of its revenue from gasoline taxes.)

Rydin also wants city council to focus on using federal COVID-19 relief funds to help local small businesses adapt to the emerging post-COVID economy.

Rydin moved to Littleton proper in 2019, after living in the Ken Caryl area. Originally from the Chicago area, she holds a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a master's degree in social work from Howard University.

Rydin said volunteer work is important to her, including mentoring youth, serving on interfaith boards, working in homeless shelters and coaching softball. She is active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rydin was one of eight applicants for a vacancy on city council in May after Councilmember Karina Elrod stepped down. Council appointed Mark Rudnicki to the seat.

Rydin can be reached at 720-507-5401 or gretchen4littleton@gmail.com.  Her website is GretchenRydin.com

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