Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach yesterday unveiled his vision for a 24-hour campus to serve the homeless. As KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports, the mayor is looking for property downtown that can provide everything from showers to meals to drug counseling.

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The campus Bach imagines would serve 100 to start. It would have phones and computers so the homeless can reach family and find jobs, plus clinics, a laundromat and luggage storage. He calls it Sunrise Village, and he’s already thinking beyond it.

“What if we could build enough housing for a couple-3-4-500 people over time? I think we have to think big. I know we have very limited dollars and lots of hurdles but if we can get people back into shelter, I hope you’ll agree with me, there’s a real chance you can change their lives.”

Leaders of nonprofits serving the homeless praised the plan, though some say they’re already providing such services. Others say it’s not so simple. A self-described homeless man named Richard Clubs agrees.

“The true homeless are going to be homeless. You give them a nice building they’ll come there and shower. They’ll work for their tokens and their laundry, and that’s needed but its not going to paint a picture where they’re disappeared. There still going to be on the street. We’re still going to have issues with them. It’s what they choose.”

Bach says the plan is still in flux. The project might be limited to families, or just a day center. He says he would contract with charities and enlist foundations to lessen the bill for taxpayers.


2 Responses to Colorado Springs Mayor Unveils Plan for Homeless Campus

  1. Mark Kissinger says:

    The able homeless should be encouraged to work on re-building city infrastructure: such as the Waldo Canyon burn scar flood mitigation & park maintenance. If they are disabled, their disabilities must be addressed. How else can these people be enabled to be better citizens?

  2. Robyn Martin says:

    My husband and I are a newly homeless middle-aged couple in Colorado Springs. Just the other day I commented to my husband… “If I won the ($600,000,000.00) Power Ball, I would go to the East Side and build a large homeless complex that I would name HUMANITY HOUSE and RESOURCE CENTER. I would offer a private bed and clean sleeping bag to everyone who wants one. The only exception being that I absolutely would not separate married couples who need each other’s love and support more than ever in a time like this. I would offer 24-7 Shower Facilities where people wouldn’t need to line up two or more hours in advance, as they do for the one and only facility (I’ve discovered) in the city that offers limited and, in my opinion undignified ‘CLIENTS USE BACK ENTRANCE’ (as posted at the facility) showers”.

    I wouldn’t hire people who can jump in their own shower before arriving to the interview to do anything other than supervisory positions and the minimum number of full-time certified professionals. Those whom I would preferably hire would have experienced homelessness, or at least poverty, first hand. Most important, all non-resident employees would be required to treat every individual with the utmost dignity and respect, anything short of this would be an automatic dismissal. ALL JOBS that can be learned through O.J.T. would be given to homeless individuals who desire to be off the streets. Those individuals would be compensated exactly as a non-homeless employee in that position would. They would attend classes on finances and other subjects as individual need dictates and ultimately be integrated back into the community as “full-fledged” contributing members of society.

    I would encourage everyone who reads this to also read “The Poor Pay All” by Herbert Gans and be sure to pay attention to the date it was written. The poor serve an absolute purpose in society but this is NOT the way it should be. No individuals in any society should ever be dependent in any way whatsoever upon the least able of that society. When it occurs, it is nothing short of exploitation and it only guarantees that the inequality will persist.

    Why must I have a church give me days old bread when the grocery store could cut out the middle man and give it to me directly as a homeless/poor person with a card stating that I am indeed homeless/poor (yes, I’ve already had to get a letter from an organization, on their letterhead, confirming that I am indeed homeless!). Why must I be preached to at seemingly every turn by the church people serving me and my fellow homeless people. Why must I profess to be a Christian in order to be a Good American in today’s culture???? -I am not, and could not be, such a hypocrite but the point is very real just the same.

    I have a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Human Relations. I NEVER planned to be homeless and I have no intention of remaining homeless any longer than absolutely necessary. I would like to also state that the owners of the apartment/hotel slums right here in Colorado Springs (who charge outrageously more from the homeless and struggling to live in their disgusting slums than the same people would pay if they could live in a cleaner complex with more square footage) are heinously exploiting the poor and downtrodden and should be ashamed of themselves. One would-be-homeless man I met rents a 9 X 12 room in a downtown apartment complex for more than 400.00/mo.!!! There is not even a kitchenette!!! Because my husband and I are two, it would cost us $525.00/month to rent the very same 9 X 12 room. I will never understand how slumlords and their managers find sleep at night!

    These men and women are guided by absolute greed and nothing more. Why does the community allow them to even exist? I believe it is because the community is completely unaware but now you know. Whether the Mayor gets funding or not, at the very least these people should be stopped from exploiting the poor. If there is nothing that can be done against these landlords, help the poor by providing funds, such as first months rent and deposit for apartments that offer more square footage and the ability to prepare healthy food for oneself.

    It is true that ‘not every homeless person wants off the street.’ But I can only speak for myself right now and yell at the top of my voice “I WANT OFF THE STREETS!!!” So far, with the systems currently in place, I can honestly say that, as a goal oriented adult and a University Graduate, getting off the streets is MUCH easier said than done.

    I hope that one day I might be instrumental in improving the system far beyond what it is today, whether as a professional from the field or as a disabled volunteer.


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