Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content New funding keeps program for homeless families going

BARBARA COTTER Updated: April 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

A $50,000 grant that funded a housing program for homeless families will run out this week, but the program will live on, thanks in large part to Springs Rescue Mission.

Bob Holmes, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak, said Friday that Springs Rescue Mission will assume responsibility for most of the program’s $20,000-a-month cost, with a grant from the Daniels Fund covering about one-eighth of the funding. Homeward Pikes Peak will continue to manage the program at the Aztec Motel on East Platte Avenue, at least for the time being. Eventually, Springs Rescue Mission expects to move the operation to a location that can house more families, then take over its management as well.

“We’re still in the process of putting together a long-range plan,” Larry Yonker, chief development officer for Springs Rescue Mission.

Homeward Pikes Peak started the motel-housing program in early 2010 with a $100,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation, just about the time City Council was to vote on a no-camping ordinance aimed at dismantling the tent cities that had sprung up near downtown and the west side. Holmes’ goal was to get the homeless campers into stable, temporary housing and help them with basic social services, provided they look for jobs, stay off drugs, avoid fighting and keep their alcohol intake in check.

The program first housed the campers at the Express Inn on Cimarron Street, then moved them to the Aztec a few months later. To keep the program going, El Pomar contributed another $50,000, the city kicked in $50,000 in federal funds and Holmes lined up smaller grants from other organizations.

In September, Holmes decided to shift the program’s focus away from the tent campers, because he believed most of those who wanted to be helped and were willing to play by the rules had been given the chance to participate. He concentrated instead on sheltering the growing number of families who were falling into homelessness, and lined up another $50,000 grant from El Pomar. That money runs out Friday.

“Now it’s my responsibility to try to raise money to sustain the program,” Yonker said.
Already, Springs Rescue Mission has received donations from First Presbyterian Church and several individuals to continue funding the program at the Aztec, which has 24 rooms and averages about 75 to 80 residents.

Yonker said Springs Rescue Mission has not determined how many more people it expects to be able to house when the program moves and expands, but “we hope to help in the hundreds every year.”

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