Before a packed house at the City Administration Building on Wednesday afternoon, Suzi Bach and city staffer Aimee Cox announced a new effort to end homelessness in Colorado Springs.
According to supporters, “The city, although not a direct provider, is committed to engaging with service providers, business leaders, policy makers and the public to promote community-wide collaboration and champion and invest in strategies that prevent and end homelessness in our community.”
Cox identified several federal funding sources from which at least $5 million can be made available during the next two years to support strategies in the plan.
The plan sets forth six goals:
• To increase access to emergency shelter, particularly during the winter months;
• Facilitate development of a day center offering comprehensive service and amenities;
• Expand outreach programs to reduce street homelessness;
• Increase access to stable and affordable housing;
• Strengthen the Community’s “Continuum of Care,” which coordinates local housing and service providers; and
• Develop a ten-year plan to end homelessness with strong community buy-in.
A Trustee Committee has been established to execute the planning and implementation process, with Cox assigned as senior staff person in implementing the plan.
The committee will be led by Nechie Hall, the interim director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and includes Kathy Hybl, Suzi Bach, Mike DeGrant of HBA Cares, Deborah Hendrix, City Councilor Jan Martin, former City Attorney Chris Melcher, Harrison School District 12 Superintendent Andre Spencer, Jason Wood of Pikes Peak United Way, Carol Bruce-Fritz of the Community Health Partnership, Fire Chief Chris Riley, Lance Bolton of Pikes Peak Community College, and Benjamin Broadbent from First Congregational Church.
The committee will begin by focusing on the first three goals. While introducing the new strategy, Suzi Bach noted that 80.8 percent of female-headed households with children in Colorado Springs live below the poverty level.
She also pointed out that of the 1,171 homeless persons surveyed in a 2013 study conducted by United Way, 33 percent were families with children, 14 percent were veterans, and 14 percent were victims of domestic violence.
The City plans to move forward quickly. A request for proposal for shelter services will be released by March 1, as will another for outreach services. By April 30, the city will announce funding availability for a day center.
No location has been identified for the proposed day center.
The City’s partners include El Paso County, Pikes Peak United Way, Homeward Pikes Peak, Partners in Housing and Urban Peak.