[Hpn] Colorado Springs Mega-shelter is Dead
Fri, 22 Jun 2001 10:18:17 -0400 (EDT)
The El Pomar Foundation pulled the plug on the planned-in-secret Montgomery
Community Center mega-shelter yesterday morning. Since it was announced two
years ago, the mega-shelter promoters have not just ignored but actively
avoided alternative ideas as to how to best address the needs of homeless
people. Hopefully now, we will have open, public discussion and planning on
this issue. As the article below details, what the homeless DON'T need is a
$6 million waiting room for needed services. There are several more articles
at the Gazette's website
Colorado Springs, CO
<<Homeless left to wait
By Todd Hegert/The Gazette
Randy Seeley doesn't see a lack of services for the homeless and hungry in
Colorado Springs. But getting to them can be a full-time job, he said.
"I can spend five to six hours a day going from places like the Social
Security office to the soup kitchen to the homeless shelter," said Seeley,
who has been homeless for five years. "There's lots of people (who do) a good
job of caring for us, but they're too spread apart for homeless people to get
around to and take care of their business."
That was the crux of the problem the Montgomery Community Center proposal was
designed to address -- consolidating a variety of services to help the
homeless and improverished in a location with ready access.
But Thursday's announcement that the American Red Cross and the El Pomar
Foundation are dropping plans to locate the center in the Mill Street
neighborhood south of downtown makes it unlikely the Montgomery center
concept will come to fruition in the city, supporters said.
At a news conference held to announce the demise of the Montgomery center
proposal, opponents urged backers to find a location that would not impact
But Ann Carlisle Holcomb, CEO of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Red Cross,
said that is not a practical solution.
"This (the downtown area) is where the homeless are and we need to be where
the homeless are. It would be easy to buy land out in Yoder, but that's not
where the homeless are," she said.
The extent of homelessness in the area is hard to quantify, but a study
commissioned a year ago by the city estimated that more than 800 people are
living in parks, under bridges and in the shelters of Colorado Springs. As
many as 1,200 people are at risk of joining them.
Marian House Soup Kitchen serves free meals to about 350 homeless people a
day, said its director, Maryann Stadjuhar. Stadjuhar said a few of the 14
service providers who were to consolidate services at the Montgomery center
have begun to coordinate them at Marian House. But she said the facility is
inadequate for handling the number of services and the homeless clients who
Seeley, one of the hundreds of homeless eating lunch at Marian House on
Thursday, said the community has little understanding of the causes and
realities of homelessness in Colorado Springs.
"I've been trying to work all my life. I'm just getting old and can't do it
anymore. But most people think we're homeless just because we're lazy,"
Christal McCune, who lives with her husband and three young children at the
Red Cross Shelter, said misconceptions about the homeless often make it
difficult for them to get steady jobs needed to regain their independence.
"My husband works two shifts a day as a day laborer. But it's like we have
the plague or something when employers find out we're living at the shelter.
They don't realize how hard we're working to get out of here," McCune said.
Still, McCune said she didn't support the proposed Montgomery center.
"I didn't think building another shelter was a good idea in the first place.
I'd rather see them use money to help people get into a place of their own --
provide first month's rent or a damage deposit."
City Councilman Richard Skorman, who opposed the Montgomery center, wants to
see more money devoted to expanding services that will prevent homelessness,
such as transportation, affordable housing, drug and alcohol treatment and
mental health care.>>