Colorado Springs homelessness coalition on the move, expanding health focus
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FILE - Chris Carr sits next to a large 5-6 hole in the ground with logs and branches as a roof. He participated in the annual Point in Time survey of the homeless on Monday, January 29, 2018. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

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El Paso County's lead coalition in addressing homelessness is on the move.

The Pikes Peak Continuum of Care plans to head Monday to the offices of Community Health Partnership, ending years spent being administered by the Pikes Peak United Way.

With the shift, Community Health Partnership plans to expand the coalition's work on homelessness - particularly health care, said Aimee Cox, the partnership's CEO. Cox previously served as Colorado Springs' point person on homelessness, spearheading a plan to increase shelter beds and create a homeless day center.

"It's not just about the people experiencing homelessness, but also about the rest of the community - how do we address this from a community health perspective?" Cox said. "We can bring health care services into this conversation in a more robust way."

The continuum consists of several nonprofits, and it operates under a federal mandate to streamline and coordinate housing programs. The goal: Move people from shelters to more permanent housing.

Its chief responsibility is overseeing about $2.4 million in federal grants aimed at addressing homelessness. It also coordinates the annual count of the region's homeless population, which takes place every year in late January.

In addition, the coalition oversees a database used by nonprofits that logs who uses its services. And it oversees a system called Coordinated Entry, which pairs people with housing opportunities, based on their needs.

The announcement comes amid a time of transition for Community Health Partnership, which for years has been the lead agency in pairing Medicaid patients with primary care doctors in a bid to reduce emergency room usage and health care costs. That contract ends June 30.

While increasing its focus on homelessness, the organization also has programs focused on addressing the opioid epidemic and on coordinating care for uninsured residents.

Public safety net reporter