The Salvation Army Addresses Family Homelessness
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, September 28, 2017: The Salvation Army is set to tackle the difficult problem of family homelessness by more than doubling the number of shelter beds available to homeless families with children. A strategy is being unveiled to increase the number of beds from 40 to 80 beds and provide up to 24 additional supportive housing units for homeless families.
Homeless families with children have been one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population, with one in every 30 children being homeless. According to 10 local school districts, 922 children in our community are homeless each year.
In 2016, The Salvation Army sheltered 328 families and 398 children, and turned away 10-15 families each month due to space limitations. The number of families sheltered at The Shelter & Services at RJ Montgomery increased by 159% from 127 families in 2013 to 398 families in 2016.
As the problem of family homelessness accelerates, the services to accommodate the increasing numbers are lagging behind. The Salvation Army is positioned to help Colorado Springs realize the goal that “all citizens of Colorado Springs will have access to safe shelter and a strong safety net of services to help them avoid and end homelessness.” The Salvation Army is enhancing their work already being done and aligning with other agencies to increasingly meet the needs of the community and offer new strategies to prevent and end homelessness, particularly in families. Our goal is to transition 200 families into permanent housing each year through Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, and programs such as rental assistance, and lease co-signing.
“In addition to increasing the number of beds at The Salvation Army emergency shelter, we will be opening 24 apartment style units for homeless families,” said Captain David Kauffman, The Salvation Army County Coordinator. The agency will open four of the family supportive housing units immediately, but needs to secure funding to upgrade the additional 20 units. The Salvation Army needs to raise an estimated $1.3 million dollars to fully accomplish their goals.
The Salvation Army is a vital partner in El Paso County’s efforts to provide shelter and end homelessness in our community through The Salvation Army Shelter & Services at RJ Montgomery. The shelter houses and feeds up to 200 individuals each night, adding up to over 70,000 meals and nearly 70,000 bed nights in 2016. The shelter provides dinner and offers an informal breakfast. The Salvation Army shelter averages 198 people each night at a cost of $13.83 per person. The majority of the individuals sheltered have no financial resources when they come to the shelter, so Salvation Army caseworkers help clients establish life skills, employment and help transition individuals into owning or renting their own home.
The Salvation Army shelter is currently the county’s only emergency family shelter, and houses a Children’s Discovery Center to provide a location for children to play and a place for families to cook, eat and be together while the family is in crisis. “We plan to work closely with other agencies like Catholic Charities to maximize the services available to families including job training, financial literacy and life skills programs,” said Captain Kauffman.