Colorado Springs Homeless Response Action Plan
Last month, city staff developed the 2018-19 Homelessness Response Action Plan
featuring “8 Points” to help people experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs. These goals include a work program for people experiencing homelessness, a comprehensive plan to create affordable housing and the designation of more resources to help neighborhoods clean up camps. This initial plan ignored a very important, but invisible population: FAMILIES.
We are excited to announce that the city has accepted a proposal to adopt a “Point 9”! Drafted through a collaboration with Partners in Housing, Catholic Charities, Family Promise, The Salvation Army, and Colorado Health Partners, “Point 9” specifically address the needs of families experiencing homelessness.
The 2018 State of Family Homelessness in Colorado Springs
states that the “safety net system for addressing family homelessness in Colorado Springs/El Paso County is diffuse and under-resourced in a number of important areas. Significant gaps exist in emergency sheltering, homeless prevention, transitional housing, and affordable, low-income housing.” This collaborative proposal (linked above) not only provides data in the scope and impact of family homelessness, but outlines strategies to close these resource and service gaps. Point 9, listed below, proposes a “20-40 Plan” to increase the number of family emergency shelter units AND 40 new Transitional housing Units.
9. Add emergency shelter and transitional housing units for families experiencing homelessness.
Homeless families often hide from counts like Point in Time for fear of having their children removed from their care. The more accurate measurement is performed by school districts which are required by the McKinney-Vento Act to perform annual counts of homeless students. The most recent of these counts in Colorado Springs identified 1,117 school age students experiencing homelessness (defined as living in cars, camps and shelters as well as “doubled up” with multiple families or precariously housed in motels).
Colorado Springs has no low barrier family shelter and has limited options that allow families to stay together. 118 families were turned away from emergency shelter between August and October of this year. Similarly, transitional housing providers lack the housing inventory to meet the need. Last year, at least 938 adults and 1,818 children were waitlisted due to lack of space.
According to the Urban Institute, “…ignoring family homelessness today will make single adult homelessness worse in the future, as children who experience long-term homelessness are five times more likely than their peers to become homeless as adults.”
The City will collaborate with service providers with a goal of adding an additional 20 single-occupancy family emergency shelter units and 40 new Transitional Housing units. Alongside agencies that provide homelessness prevention and case management for families, we will work to bring relief for this vulnerable and hidden homeless population.
And for more information about the City’s Plan: