Pueblo’s Only Homeless Shelter Closes Soon But There’s A Plan To Change That

<p>Nathaniel Minor/CPR News</p>
<p>Matthew Hernandez, a Pueblo native, passes the time drawing with colored pencils at the city&#039;s new homeless shelter on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.</p>
Photo: Pueblo Homeless 4 | Passing time
Matthew Hernandez, a Pueblo native, passes the time drawing with colored pencils at the city's new homeless shelter on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.

The city of Pueblo doesn’t have a permanent homeless shelter, but that should change by the end of this year.

A building at 729 W. Fourth St. could see new life as a shelter if grant money from Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs is secured by the Pueblo Rescue Mission.

The building was once the Wayside Cross Rescue Mission, a warming shelter, until it shuttered in 2017. Plans to remodel the building then failed because of a lack of funding. The estimated $1.3 million cost would go to renovations that would allow the building to operate as a fully functional dormitory-style shelter.

Pueblo Rescue Mission’s Executive Director Kathy Cline said that an end-of-the-year timeline is optimistic, but with support from the city there shouldn’t be any hiccups this time around.

“We don’t anticipate halting anything,” Cline said. “It may take longer just based on the funding resources, but we’re looking at all the options to make this happen as quickly as we can.”

Cline said they will have a complete application by May 1 and will know if funding has been approved by July or August. The Rescue Mission would contribute $96,000 of its own funds to meet the total goal, but the city would need to agree to match 25 percent of the cost or $290,000 for funding to be approved.

Bryan Gallagher is the city's director for the department of housing and citizen services. He said that money still needs to be found.

“The bulk of the grant is through the Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing,” Gallagher said. “There will need to be a local match and that has not been determined. We'll do our best as the city to try and meet that.”

A temporary, bare-bones warming shelter at 901 W. Ninth St. opened mid-December in 2018 and is operating through the end April, when its lease expires. The end of that operation means that there will be no overnight shelter for the homeless community until the building on Fourth Street is complete.

“As it stands now, we are looking to accommodate 100 unaccompanied men and women. So no families or children,” Cline said. “During the coldest parts of the year if we had an excess of folks we would go back to mats on the floor as needed.”

The completion of this project will dramatically increase the Rescue Mission’s ability to serve this part of the community in other ways as well.

They would be able to serve a meal seven nights a week and add a navigation center. It could act as a hub for community partners to provide myriad resources to the homeless community. Cline cited case management, job resources and cooking classes as a few of the partnerships currently in planning for the new center.