A proposal in Colorado Springs may pay people transitioning out of homelessness to clean trash from city rights of way

Colorado Springs City Hall. May 31, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colorado Springs City Hall. May 31, 2022.

UPDATE: The Colorado Springs City Council gave preliminary approval to the Keep it Clean COS proposal on Tuesday, Aug. 9 and on Aug. 23 unanimously approved funding the program.

The Colorado Springs City Council is set to vote on a new $2.7 million program to clean trash from city rights of way — and they’d like to employ people transitioning out of homelessness to do it. 

The proposed funding, adding to the city’s Keep it Clean COS Initiative, would largely be used toward the purchase of four street sweepers, as well as large truck-mounted vacuum units with extendable tubes to clean medians and ditches. 

Travis Easton, the city’s public works director, says his office often receives complaints of excessive garbage in public areas. Easton, who developed this funding proposal, said current efforts have not kept up with the community’s growing trash problem.

“We don't want to be driving to work or taking the kids to school, [and] you're passing a bunch of trash on the roadways and things like that. It just doesn't serve any of us very well,” Easton said. “It lowers property values and, really, the pride that people should have in the area they live in is important.”

The city has used trash complaints filed by residents to create a digital “heat map” of where the most cleaning attention should be directed, prioritizing 135 miles of roadway across the sprawling Colorado Springs city limits. 

Easton also said the new street sweepers provided through the program would enable sweeping of all Colorado Springs streets at least once a year, something not currently possible. 

The proposal would also fund about 10 employees to implement the city’s cleaning goals. Easton said he hopes to expand a pothole repair program developed two years ago, which operated in conjunction with local organizations like the Springs Rescue Mission to provide work opportunities for those getting back on their feet after homelessness.

An official with the Springs Rescue Mission said the nonprofit is optimistic for more chances to partner with the city, though details on the street cleaning project have not yet been finalized.

The city council will take a preliminary vote on the funding proposal next Tuesday.