Grant money will help Springs Rescue Mission expand shelter program

June 17, 2014 Updated: June 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm
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Jeremy Johnson and Alex Griffith examine blueprints for the building that the all-winter shelter will be housed in at the Springs Rescue Mission in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Friday, October 11, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette)

After offering a warm place to sleep for hundreds of people last winter, The Springs Rescue Mission plans to re-open and expand its shelter this year with the help of nearly $40,000 in grant money.

The funding was among a list of grants that will go to organizations across the city, Colorado Springs officials announced Tuesday. In all, roughly $375,000 from federal funding and the city's general fund will go to 17 nonprofits.

The Springs Rescue Mission's winter shelter first opened Nov. 1 as a 30-bed facility for people to sleep at night, regardless of the overnight temperature. That concept differed from previous winter shelters, which only opened when the low dipped below 32 degrees.

The nonprofit originally planned to run the program, which it increased to 35 beds midway through winter, for just one cold-weather season, but Tuesday's announcement should change that.

The organization received $39,700 to offer the shelter program from Nov. 1 through April 15, 2015, while expanding its bed count to 50. That amount should cover about 20 percent of the program's cost, said Larry Yonker, the nonprofit's president and chief executive.

The need for the program was evident by the numbers: 5,443 shelter nights were provided to 343 different people, said Aimee Cox, the city's senior economic vitality specialist. The new funding should help the nonprofit adequately staff the facility, while easing in services from its Resource Advocate Program.

"This is really to help us expand with the human capital," Yonker said. "The human capital is what it takes to take them from just a place where they lay their head, to try to help them transition out of that."

Better-than-anticipated federal Community Development Block Grant allocations also helped officials award grants to youth service programs. City officials originally planned to prioritize emergency shelter programs ahead of youth services as part of Mayor Steve Bach's recent plan to address homelessness, amid weak federal grant projections. Bach's six-point initiative aims to increase emergency shelter and outreach, fund the creation of a day center and beef up affordable housing options.

Youth services grant recipients included Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Pikes Peak Region, Colorado Springs Teen Court, Early Connections Learning Center and Safe Passage.

The city also plans to fund Ascending to Health Respite Care, which offers help to homeless people being released from a hospital.

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