Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content $7.8 million in federal grant spending part of Colorado Springs plan to end homelessness

By Jakob Rodgers Updated: April 30, 2014 at 7:24 am

Colorado Springs residents can begin commenting on the city's upcoming housing and neighborhood improvement projects Monday - a spending plan that figures to play heavily into the city's new initiative to end homelessness.

About 40 people attended a public hearing Tuesday, where Colorado Springs officials spelled out their annual plan for spending nearly $7.8 million from three federal grant programs.

The spending plan includes projects running from April 1 through March 31, 2015, but the process has been slowed due to delays in the federal grant allocation process.

Among the most visible will be the city's push to fund the creation of a homeless day center while expanding emergency shelter beds, homeless outreach opportunities and affordable housing options. The initiatives were announced in January by Mayor Steve Bach, as a $5 million push to end homelessness.

The city's homeless push will rely heavily on annual federal grants it already receives each year.

Under the plan discussed Tuesday, city officials anticipate funding the day center via a $1.1 million pot of money set aside for public facilities, said Aimee Cox, the city's senior economic vitality specialist.

The initiative's outreach programs will be funded via $275,100 in federal grants set aside for human services projects (the city will also pitch in about $100,000 in general fund money). Funding for an expansion of emergency shelter beds will come from both pots of money, Cox said.

Colorado Springs officials are in the midst of assessing the region's affordable housing stock in a joint project with El Paso County.

In all, the city expects to spend 4.3 million on affordable housing assistance, and $2.1 million for public infrastructure. The remaining $1.3 million includes administration costs, human services programs, neighborhood revitalization projects and neighborhood planning activities across the city.

About $500,000 for public infrastructure remains unallocated, because the city is seeking more feedback from various neighborhood groups.

The city also plans to spend $100,000 on a pilot initiative to purchase and demolish blighted property, Cox said.

Tuesday marked the first public hearing for the plan, because the city missed holding one last year, Cox said. She stressed, however, that the city has sought input in less formal meetings with nonprofits and homeless service providers across the city.

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