A team at the Colorado Springs Fire Department focused on serving the needs of the local homeless population will likely receive stable funding through the city’s proposed 2023 budget.
The Homeless Outreach Program had subsisted on grant funding since its founding in 2019. Advocates for the program spoke to city council members in a public meeting late last month asking for a more permanent source of funding.
In its initial budget proposal, fire department leadership had not prioritized funding for the team, believing the approximately $400,000 needed annually to keep the team funded could continue to come from grants.
After the public hearing, council members expressed a desire to move funding for the team directly into the city’s general fund, better insulating the program should grants dry up or not come through.
Council members allocated about $200,000 into the proposed budget to keep the team going through the end of 2023, after their current grant funding expires in June. City officials expect the team’s full annual funding to appear in the city’s 2024 budget proposal.
The Colorado Springs Police Department has a separate Homeless Outreach Team, which focuses more on enforcement of illegal urban campsites and other similar code violations.
City council member Bill Murray said he would prefer the resources for both teams be moved into one larger fire department program.
“[The unsheltered] will avoid a police uniform,” he said. “They treat fire department personnel differently.”
The city council will take its final vote on the 2023 budget next month.
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