As Colorado Springs continues to grapple with a growing homeless population, City Council is looking at spending $500,000 to expand capacity at the city’s shelters.
The goal is to add more “low-barrier” shelter beds, which don’t require sobriety for access. According to a recent report from the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, a network of local homeless service providers, the city needs more of these types of beds, especially as cold weather brings more risk to people experiencing homelessness.
City Council president Richard Skorman says if approved, the money would come from the city’s rainy day fund.
“This is a band-aid, it’s not going to solve the homeless problem,” he said. “It’s not going to solve our affordable housing problem. But if you can keep people safe and you can get them to services, that’s really what you hope.”
The money would go to Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army to create more than 400 low-barrier beds. Many of those could be available by November. Springs Rescue Mission development director, Travis Williams, said increasing low-barrier shelter access is an important first step toward addressing homelessness in the city.
“The more people that we can encourage to come to the Springs Rescue Mission -- remove all those barriers, meet them, greet them with a friendly face and build trust -- then it allows us to work with individuals to help them find better pathways toward better housing, better health, and better work,” he explained.
Skorman said more beds will also mean the city can enforce a recently passed creekside camping ban, as people will have a place to go when kicked out of unauthorized campsites.
City council is expected to take up the measure in October.