COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – From the base of one of four donated Lamar billboards displaying the message, “Handouts don’t help,” the City of Colorado Springs announced its newly-released Homelessness Action Plan. The eight-item plan aims to make progress in addressing homelessness by improving sheltering and housing options, creating new programs around homeless work opportunities, veteran homelessness, how the municipal court interacts with this population and establishing an ambassador program in downtown and Old Colorado City.
HelpCOS to Benefit Rescue Mission & Salvation Army
The City also doubled down on its HelpCOS education and fund-raising campaign, announcing that 100% of funds raised would go to the Salvation Army and Springs Rescue Mission for purposes of expanding their low barrier sheltering capabilities and services. People can give to the campaign and directly support these service providers by texting HelpCOS to 667873 or by visitingHelpCOS.org.
“By giving to HelpCOS, you will give shelter to homeless individuals battling the cold. At the same time, you will empower our law enforcement agencies to enforce the camping ban and protect our community assets including our parks, waterways and rights of way,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Giving to HelpCOS is truly an impactful donation and one that will much more positively impact the issue than handing money to a panhandler. This is the message we want to get out.”
Public Input Opportunities
The City of Colorado Springs together with City Council President Richard Skorman, will host three town hall meetings to gather public input on the plan. Those meetings will be October 17 at the Westside Community Center and October 25 at City Council Chambers. A third event will be scheduled in November. The City will also gather feedback through its survey mechanism, Speak Up, in the coming weeks.
The Homelessness Action Plan
The homelessness action plan’s eight items are as follow. More detailed descriptions are available in the plan document, attached.
1. Continue educating the public via the HelpCOS campaign.
2. Add an additional 370 low barrier shelter beds
3. Implement a Homeless Outreach Court
4. Establish a veteran housing incentive fund
5. Develop a Comprehensive Affordable Housing plan
6. Support funding for a homeless work program with area non-profit(s)
7. Add Neighborhood Services staff to aid in cleaning up illegal camps
8. Develop “HelpCOS Ambassador Team” for downtown and Old Colorado City areas
“The goal of this plan is progress,” said Suthers. “I am not so naïve to think that we will fully end homelessness. This is a complex issue facing cities nationwide. That said, we owe it to all our residents, homeless and housed alike, to take steps to mitigate the situation, and I think this plan is a good starting point.”
The full plan is available on the website.