News Briefs: Bar Codes and Piggy Banks in Colorado Springs

Published September 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 8

Two proposed programs aimed at improving homeless services in Colorado Springs may be underway again after experiencing delays over the past year. One program is a rapid-entry card system. Homeless clients of various Colorado Springs agencies will be provided with a card that has the cardholder’s photo and a bar code. The card will expedite services for people who need them by replacing the old process of filling out a new form for each new agency. The card will also help formulate long-term plans to get people into housing. The program ran into a setback this January when the contracted vendor went out of business. The program is now back on track, and a test run of the card system is expected to take place soon.

The second program is a network of repurposed parking meters that will be placed in Colorado Springs businesses to collect change for local agencies offering services for the homeless. Colorado Springs Councilman Jerry Heimlicher initially proposed the plan two years ago as part of an effort to decrease panhandling in the area. The program experienced difficulties early on in finding the machines—it took a year and a half to acquire all 135 used meters. Another setback occurred when organizers realized they did not have enough money to pay the artists they originally had commissioned to customize each meter. Local businesses will now be donating the money to buy materials that volunteers will use to decorate the meters. Heimlicher is hoping to launch the meters by October.

-- Sarah Harvey