An upcoming expo aims to help residents learn more about homelessness in the Pikes Peak region — as well as what they can do to address the issue.
“Addressing Homelessness: A Community Call to Action,” will be 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.
The event is being hosted by the city of Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community Health Partnership, the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care and the Council of Neighbors and Organizations. It represents a chance for residents to question city and nonprofit leaders about what’s being done to address homelessness.
“One of the main points of this type of event is to educate the community on all the wonderful work being done to end homelessness in the Pikes Peak region, and also to try to get people involved by either volunteering or donating their money or their goods,” said Andrew Phelps, the city’s homelessness prevention and response coordinator.
Representatives from about 20 nonprofits plan to set up booths for people to visit and learn more about their work. Those organizations include Springs Rescue Mission, Homeward Pikes Peak, the Salvation Army and Westside CARES.
The most recent Point in Time homeless survey found 1,562 people living homeless in El Paso County — roughly the same number as in 2018, when a record 1,551 people were counted amid a yearslong rise in homelessness. The survey also found the number of people living unsheltered — living outside in camps, on the streets, in vehicles or in abandoned buildings — dropped 13%, from 513 to 444.
In February, the city finalized an action plan that focused on five main goals, led by increasing education about homelessness through the city’s HelpCOS.org website and additional community meetings.
The city also vowed to broaden access to shelter and services, reduce barriers for “people ready to exit homelessness,” improve access to housing and clean up illegal camps to protect the environment.
Included were plans for several new initiatives, including a new fund for private donors to help house homeless military veterans, and increased staffing for the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team.
But Thursday’s event also will be a chance for people to connect with one of the myriad nonprofits who are also trying to make a difference, Phelps said.
“We’re just hoping that more people will get involved in this fight and join in volunteering with any one of these wonderful nonprofits that will be represented,” he said.