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Urban Peak wins federal grant to keep more homeless youths off the streets

October 2, 2017 Updated: October 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm
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photo - Camper set up their beds outside during the Night Out to End Youth Homeless Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs. Forty people slept outside the church to raise money for the Urban Peak. Visit www.urbanpeak.org to donate to the teenage homeless shelter.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Camper set up their beds outside during the Night Out to End Youth Homeless Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs. Forty people slept outside the church to raise money for the Urban Peak. Visit www.urbanpeak.org to donate to the teenage homeless shelter. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Urban Peak plans to create a housing program to keep homeless teens and young adults from spending a lifetime on the streets.

The nonprofit received a five-year, $890,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a first-of-its-kind program in Colorado Springs.

It will house eight to 10 homeless youths at a time.

The grant is a "game changer" in the city's ability to combat homelessness among youths aged 16 to 21, said Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Urban Peak.

"The transitional living program - it's a perfect niche for the youth age," Kemppainen said.

The nonprofit focuses on helping homeless youths get off the street, and about 150 people a year use its shelter at 423 E. Cucharras St.

The organization also operates multiple housing programs that are expected to help 55 to 60 people move off the streets and into apartments this year, largely using grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The latest grant is expected to grow that figure by eight to 10 people a year, Kemppainen said.

Several details of the program have yet to be finalized, she said, though it likely will entail several teens living in one residence or facility for up to 1½ years.

"Particularly for minors, we want to have a really warm, family-friendly sort of atmosphere for this program," she said,

The program will be a partnership with Partners in Housing and the Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust.

Urban Peak also received a three-year extension of a separate $453,000 grant, which typically accounts for about one-third of its shelter budget, Kemppainen said.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

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