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Tents line up as a temporary solution

 

Individuals experiencing homelessness in our community do what they can to survive. To them, this includes finding a safe place to sleep each night. But the conditions are typically tough. And many of these individuals barely sleep at all, keeping one eye open at night to ensure they’re safe.

Springs Rescue Mission and other members of the city’s Continuum of Care (COC), which includes Urban Peak, Catholic Charities, United Way, and others, do what we can to provide help and services for the homeless community, including a safe place to sleep.

But our capacity and ability to meet the need are limited. And while construction happens on the Rescue Mission’s campus, open space and property have become almost non-existent.

Except for one spot.

Encampment on Las Vegas St.

There is a mere sliver of land, covered in asphalt that connects Tejon St. to the rest of the Mission’s campus. And right now, it’s all we have to offer.

This piece of land is on Springs Rescue Mission’s property, and we’ve allowed it to become a temporary solution for our neighbors in need. We never encourage camping, but understand these individuals need a place. Our desire is that we always want individuals experiencing homelessness to find a pathway out of their situation. That’s why we have Resource Advocates on our staff, to help those individuals find that path.

The temporary encampment exists, so our neighbors in need have a place to go. The residents of the encampment do their best to keep the area clean and have begun self-regulating. They pick up trash, keeping the area free of debris and they ensure everyone is on their best behavior. The Rescue Mission has also provided temporary toilets for the campers to use.

And once our new campus is open and available, this encampment will no longer exist.

What can be done to help those in need now?

There aren’t many, if any, options for these neighbors right now. If we ask them to leave, where would they go?

However, if we continue to allow the campers to stay on our property temporarily, for those who choose, we’re able to help them find the resources they need and feed them a hot meal each evening.

While we finish our new year-round shelter, we understand and recognize that the residents of the encampment need help and services now. This help can’t wait until we open the shelter next month.

Continuum of Care will help those in immediate need

That’s why we’re grateful for our friends and allies in the COC. The COC is a group of organizations and services that are doing their best with the capacity they have to meet the needs of our neighbors in need.

Beginning immediately, Urban Peak, Catholic Charities, and Springs Rescue Mission will be walking the encampment, meeting with individuals staying there and helping them find immediate help. We’ve already recognized a family in need and are in the process of helping them into a new situation.

There is much work to do, but this is truly a moment where the community is coming together to help our most vulnerable neighbors. But it doesn’t end here.

The community-at-large must rally to support not only the work of the Springs Rescue Mission but also the great work of those in our Continuum of Care. Urban Peak, Catholic Charities, and others, we’re all in this fight to end homelessness together, and our resources and capacity are much smaller than the need.

What can I do as part of the Colorado Springs community?

To help neighbors experiencing homelessness, consider donating goods, food, and money to one of the organizations mentioned above. The state, city, and these organizations have worked diligently to put systems and processes in place that have been proven to help those in need.

As beneficial as it may seem at first, please do not take goods or food directly into the encampment. Take them to Springs Rescue Mission where individuals at the camp can come and utilize the services offered.

Thank you for your continued care and attention to homelessness within our community.

About the Author - Thomas Voss

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