Homelessness is often thought of as an extreme. We imagine someone standing outside the grocery store with a cardboard sign that reads: “will work for food.” Or maybe we think of folks sleeping in tattered blankets under a downtown bridge. Rarely do we imagine our neighbors, or a suburban family of four, or ourselves, as homeless. But, as I learned on a Community Impact Visit with Greccio Housing, homelessness is increasingly becoming a reality for many people who never considered themselves at risk.
Greccio Housing seeks to provide long-term housing and supportive services to low-income individuals and families in the Pikes Peak region. On any given day, Greccio houses about 383 adults and 160 children, bringing their 423 units to an average 99 percent capacity. But the organization does much more than offer its residents a safe place to stay.
Greccio focuses on two main programs: Affordable Housing and Resident Enrichment. Two years ago, Greccio Housing received a $30,000 grant to support the latter.
The Resident Enrichment Program is available to all residents, but is not required. It offers job and education assistance, one-on-one budget counseling and financial literacy courses, and emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation, and food. In addition, Greccio provides opportunities for the residents to take leadership positions on the organization’s Resident Council. These councils allow residents to participate in planning important annual events such as the yard sale, adopt-a-family program, and school supplies drive. Last year, Greccio predicted they would see 180 households have contact with the REP. Instead, 423 households took advantage of it, making it clear that Greccio's clients value this program.
With the crash of the housing market, rental demand increased and therefore rent prices increased. Many Colorado Springs families that considered themselves stable were left out in the cold.
To meet increased need, Greccio continues to acquire more properties, partner with local nonprofits, and add additional family-friendly nonsmoking properties. By facing head-on the issues encountered by many families in today’s tough economic climate, Greccio housing is making a lasting difference in our community.
Pictured below is summer intern, Dakota Sandras, with Greccio Housing Director of Development, Jill Gaebler.