Themes From the Pikes Peak Regional Council's Grant Partners
by Dylan Craddock
In 2021, the Pikes Peak Regional Council funded five grant partners engaged in combatting veteran homelessness in the region: Springs Rescue Mission; Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center; Home Front Military Network; Rocky Mountain Human Services and Volunteers of America. The Council recently had the opportunity to hear from each organization about the state of veteran homelessness in the region. The following are some high-level themes that they shared. We hope these insights can continue to guide the Council in supporting grant partners in the Pikes Peak Region and serve as valuable information for those invested in serving individuals experiencing homelessness and at-risk veteran populations around the state.
1. COVID-19 has increased the need for housing services
Each grant partner has seen an increase in demand for services that was exacerbated by the pandemic. Even as the pandemic slows, the demand for assistance has remained high. Grant organizations anticipate COVID-19 to have a long-term impact on housing needs even as our community shifts to the “new normal.
2. Organizations face staffing challenges following COVID-19
Another major theme from our partners was the need for high-quality, consistent case management. In many instances, the cases our partners have seen have not only become more complex due to the pandemic but have also required an increase in capable case managers. Identifying and maintaining talented, mission-driven staff will be vital to organizations working in veteran homelessness.
3. The greatest barriers veterans face in accessing services and employment are low-cost housing and transportation
As housing and transportation costs continue to increase, many of our grant partners expressed concern that veterans who were previously in stable situations are now considered at-risk for homelessness. All organizations noted the difficulty of creating and funding new housing projects due to limited supply of existing affordable structures. This is to say that organizations are unable to find suitable affordable buildings or land to create new housing projects. When clients do have access to low-cost housing they often still lack reliable transportation, which prevents them from accessing consistent, sustaining employment. This adds an extra layer of hardship for veterans trying to emerge from unstable situations.
The Pikes Peak Regional Council is grateful to partner with five organizations deeply committed to addressing the issue of veteran homelessness. The Council intends to continue to explore what future impact it can have on this issue in the region in the coming months.
To learn more about the Regional Partnerships program and the work of the Pikes Peak Regional Council, click here.