To combat the public safety issue generated by the growth of the population of homeless campers in Colorado Springs, El Paso County commissioners unanimously approved a no-camping regulation in February. And by the look of it, the ordinance seems to have worked; the packed tents that had once lined the banks of Fountain Creek, which runs through America the Beautiful Park in downtown Colorado Springs, are now gone. But where did everyone go? Where are they living now?
Thanks to Homeward Pikes Peak, a local nonprofit that coordinates homeless service, an eviction notice has turned into a fresh start. With an initial $100,000 emergency grant from El Pomar Foundation and a subsequent $50,000 from the Foundation, Homeward Pikes Peak has helped 382 former campers. The first step was finding temporary homes. That was accomplished through a partnership with a local hotel. Residents were then given access to a variety of services, including programs to help locate jobs. As of June 30, out of the 382 people helped, 115 have been able to find employment, and 64 have voluntarily moved out, able to find other housing.
“Homeward Pikes Peak is giving people dignity back in their lives,” said Bob Holmes, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak.
“Many of the people we help are motivated individuals who want to find work. Once they get jobs, they are able to move on from their homeless state of despair to being able to take pride in what they do and what they have. I think that fresh start is the greatest gift we can give them.”