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Both KRDO and KOAA featured Partners in Housing programs for family homelessness in recent broadcasts.
ReMax Pots and Pans Drive Minimize
One more link to the details ReMax cookware flyer.pdf
Forum shows no easy answers to Colorado Springs homeless problem Minimize

Published May 9th, 2013
Barbara Cotter
The Gazette

No one on a panel of homeless service providers pretended to have all the answers to helping people get off the streets of Colorado Springs.

But at a forum to discuss homelessness Thursday, they agreed on one thing: It's a complex problem that will take a strong community effort, expanded resources and a lot of patience to address.

The forum, sponsored by The Gazette and Colorado College, touched on gaps in services and resources that are all too familiar to the professionals who work with the homeless as well as homeless people themselves, including a shortage of mental health services, outreach workers and emergency shelters for families, and the absence of a day center.

'I think the main problem that we are facing ... is a lack of proper mental health services, ' said panelist Bob Holmes, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak, which coordinates homeless services in the area and runs four housing and treatment programs. 'I think AspenPointe does a good job, but they're constrained by funding. We desperately need more funding for mental health services. '

Richard Peitzman, who was homeless off and on for more than 20 years and now works for the Set Free Biker's Church ministry, said mental health issues in the homeless population seem worse in the Colorado Springs area than in any of the other places he's worked, including San Diego.

He also said he's seen many more families becoming homeless in Colorado Springs, but there are few emergency shelter options for them.

'There are always facilities for men, ' he said. 'Facilities for women are few and far between, and facilities for families are almost nonexistent. '

It was a point underscored earlier Thursday in an interview with Anne Beer of Pikes Peak United Way as she released the latest statistics on homelessness in El Paso County. Although there are enough emergency beds in the area to shelter most of the homeless population, they aren't set up for families.

'We don't need more beds; we need to rearrange what we have, ' Beer said.

One issue the forum was set up to address is the impact of the chronic homeless population on downtown businesses. Former City Councilman Richard Skorman, owner of the Poor Richard's restaurant, bookstore and toy store complex on North Tejon Street, said no one can say for sure whether a business lives or dies because it's in the same area where people who are homeless, panhandling or having mental problems hang out. But he believes the population plays a role in an area that is trying to be business-friendly.

'Turnover in downtown has been tremendous in the years that I've been here, and this is a factor, ' Skorman said.

Women, in particular, seem more afraid of people who are homeless and/or panhandling, and while he doesn't believe they are doing anything criminal, he understands the perception.

'There are sometimes people with mental problems that go berserk, and that is scary, and it can happen anywhere - it doesn't have to be downtown. '

But with the homeless service organizations concentrated downtown, he said, that's where the homeless people will congregate.

Holmes, however, said he thinks people who are homeless come downtown for the same reasons other people do.

'It's a great place to be, ' Holmes said. 'I can't see blaming any agency for drawing people downtown. '

As audience members took the microphone, several recommended that more of an effort be made to bring homeless people into the decision-making process and onto the boards of nonprofits that work with them.

'I think it's a good idea, ' Skorman said to applause.

The forum on homelessness was the first of a series of quarterly community conversations that CC and The Gazette will host to discuss issues affecting Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.

Community Dollars Saved Minimize
Study shows nonprofits carry some financial heft

March 20, 2013

Colorado Springs Independent

They may not seem like money-magnets, but a new study finds that Pikes Peak region nonprofits comprise the seventh-largest industry locally, with $3.1 billion in annual revenues.

Conducted by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and Summit Economics LLC, with help from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs, "Nonprofits Matter – An Economic Force for a Vibrant Community" estimates that local nonprofits have a $1.7 billion economic impact, and help taxpayers avoid higher bills in various arenas.

Those strengths have not gone unnoticed.

"We definitely are paying attention to the local nonprofits," says Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance vice president of business development John Wilson. He adds, "We have some world-renowned organizations here and we're very excited about them."

According to the research:

• The Pikes Peak area, defined for this study as El Paso and Teller counties, is home to 1,275 nonprofits, excluding religious congregations, nonprofits so small they did not register with the IRS, and nonprofits that operate within the area but are based elsewhere.

• Nonprofit expenditures per capita were $4,723 in 2011. Though 84 percent of local nonprofits are "small," with annual budgets under a million dollars, 64 percent of 2011 spending came from the area's 15 largest nonprofits.

• Nearly a third of all spending went to employees' paychecks. In 2011, an estimated 16,800 locals were employed by a nonprofit.

• Nonprofit employees and visitors, and sometimes even the nonprofits themselves, pay about $91.7 million in state and local income, sales and property taxes annually.

In addition to the general financial analysis, CNE Executive Director Dave Somers says the study also wanted to look at "social return on investment" — how much good nonprofits do. In some cases, the study was able to translate that seemingly unscientific impact into numbers.

"Organizations like Urban Peak spend approximately $5,000 a year to shelter and assist homeless teens, who otherwise might cost our community more than $50,000 a year if they ended up in corrections or a residential treatment program," he writes in an e-mail to the Independent. "In 2011 Discover Goodwill helped 4,740 citizens find jobs in our community with projected annual earnings of more than $57 million. Sixty-five percent of Blue Star Recyclers' workforce is developmentally disabled, and their social return on investment is nearly $20,000 per worker per year in terms of reduced taxpayer support. Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center has seen a 62-percent reduction in suicide risk among its PTSD clients."

Another example is Homeward Pikes Peak, thought to save taxpayers as much as $1.9 million a year by housing the homeless and thereby negating the need for police, fire, ambulance and emergency room services. Executive director Bob Holmes says he hopes the study will provide a fresh perspective.

"Part of my biggest frustration is with right-wing conservatives who decry the spending of any money for social services," Holmes says. "That's very narrow, and it's not well thought-out.

"I tell funders I'm not looking for charity, I'm looking for an investment in the community."

Family Homelessness Increasing Minimize

Number of homeless families increasing


At 42 years old, with a storage shed full of furniture, a car, and some money in her pocket, Andrea Garrett found herself homeless.

Garrett, who lost her job in May, got lucky this January, and with a little publicity and help from the community, she and her family of three now have a temporary home. (Read more about the Garrett family.)

Homeless advocates say more and more families are in Garrett’s shoes, and even in a community known for its generosity, there’s not enough help to go around.

For years Teresa McLaughlin, the director of Pikes Peak Homeless Outreach focused her efforts on the homeless camps of Colorado Springs, where single men and women tried to eke out an existence by living in tents. Now, joining this group of homeless people are those like Garrett, who have suddenly lost their jobs, who can’t pay their utilities bills and who have lost their homes.

“White collar people are now starting to get into that situation,” McLaughlin said.  “You see a few upper middle as well as lower class … It’s everybody, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

The newly homeless family wind up on the streets unfamiliar with programs that can help them get a roof over their heads. The winter months are the busiest for organizations like McLaughlin’s, when the cold drives families to shelters in lieu of car-camping.

For a family used to their own home, shelter life makes for a difficult adjustment, McLaughlin said. Her organization works with The Aztec Motel to provide transitional housing to those who don’t make it into the shelter.

The winter holiday season in December is the best and worst time for non-profit service organizations and their beneficiaries, said Michelle Milner, the director of United Way’s 211 support hotline.

Donation drives and toy giveaways give families without means a way to give holiday gifts and cook holiday feasts. What they don’t give are jobs, homes, and way to pay utilities bills--the top three needs of families who call 211, Milner said.

The hotline is a “one-stop-shopping” system run by United Way that connects needy individuals or families to agencies who can help them.

“There are a  lot of agencies, and lots of people are giving. Unfortunately there’s only a few agencies who assist with rent,” Milner said.

Organizations that help the homeless rely on the burst of Christmas-season donations. McLaughlin calls them “December do-gooders” — people who call all month offering donations.

“But after Christmas and New Years, you very rarely hear from anybody,” McLaughlin said.
Christmas comes but once a year, but need is a year-round reality that gets worse in the winter.

“The big thing is, there’s still families sleeping in cars, hiding out, wherever they can,” McLaughlin said.

Read more:

Empty Stocking Fund Features PIH Minimize

EMPTY STOCKING: Housing, classes were key to family's success

The Gazette 11/28/11, 1:30 PM

Throughout her career at the YMCA, Carrie Wieger has referred individuals to charitable organizations for assistance with basics such as housing and food.

But the mother of five never thought she’d need those services herself until the spring of 2009, when she felt the need to leave her husband and take her children, ages 2 to 11, with her.

Wieger moved her family into her parents’ two-bedroom, one-bathroom house.

“The kids and I all slept in my mom’s bed,” she said.

Two months later, Partners in Housing, one of 15 area charities receiving grants from The Gazette–El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund, accepted Wieger’s family into its two-year program, providing them with spacious temporary living arrangements and life coaching.

“They set me up an individual home in a wonderful neighborhood,” Wieger said. “Every child had a bedroom and a space of their own. At that point I would have taken a one bedroom apartment with a roof over my head and heat and water.”

Wieger was thrilled with the nonprofit’s vast array of classes on topics such as cooking, food safety, cell phone etiquette and investing.

“I took my daughter with me to those classes,” she said. “She was able to role-model that knowledge for her brothers and sisters.”

Wieger, who now works full time, graduated from the program in August and has since secured housing for her family.

She says she has Partners in Housing to thank for every good thing in her life.

“Partners in Housing was my first step to a healthy lifestyle for me and my kids,” she said. “Without a resource like that, me and my poor children probably would have been in a bad place that we never would have gotten out of. They are willing to empower and help without being a crutch.”


Partners in Housing gives homeless families with children the hope and opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency through supportive services and transitional housing

Basic Contact Information

Partners In Housing, 455 Gold Pass Heights, Colorado Springs, CO  80906
(719) 473-8890  -  

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