By Andrew Kenney
The Springs Rescue Mission may serve 700 meals in a single day, but it only has two laundry machines—and no showers. Aiming to address a lack of daytime services and shelter beds in Colorado Springs, the mission is raising nearly $14 million and starting construction in 2016 to effectively double its capacity.
It’s one of several similar efforts making news on the Front Range this season. Boulder has significantly increased the number of locations and opportunities for daytime shelter and services. In November, the Denver Rescue Mission opened its Lawrence Street Community Center, complete with a daytime courtyard and a large kitchen.
The project in Colorado Springs will provide the city’s first permanent shelter beds that are open to people who can’t or won’t get clean of drugs or alcohol, according to Stu Davis, community relations director. It also will be the first local facility with large laundry and shower services, he said, and will offer permanent office space for partner agencies.
The mission hopes to raise about half its construction budget from government and foundation grants, and the other portion from community donations. The expansion will increase the shelter’s number of beds from 60 to 150, and it will make them year-round instead of seasonal. In all, its kitchen could serve nearly twice as many meals per year after the expansion.
It will be the Springs Rescue Mission’s largest undertaking, by far, since its founders first invited young couples into their home nearly 20 years ago. It’s the result, in part, of years of local conversation about homelessness. The plan has plenty of local momentum, Davis said.
“The reality is that Colorado Springs has been somewhat behind in terms of the trends and services being offered to people around the country,” Davis said. “I think more cities are recognizing that we need to give folks access to services and resources—and the best way to do so is to give them a place to be that’s not a municipal, park, that’s not some sort of city-owned space.”
While fundraising is still underway—about $1.8 million was pledged or given in the first month—the organization could break ground as early as this month. The project will entail combining four buildings on the mission campus into two larger buildings; the mission also will add four acres to nearly double its land at the edge of downtown Colorado Springs.
The renovated shelter and new day center will be open by November, Davis said. The improved kitchen, dining hall, and engagement center will open by mid-2017.
In Boulder, daytime shelter will be easier to find this season. In the past, the nonprofit Bridge House’s tiny Carriage House has been the place to go, but only on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Under a new program staffed by Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO), a rotating cast of faith-based organizations has opened its doors during the day. The BOHO program allows these organizations to offer shelter from 8 a. m. to 5 p.m., plus Saturdays. Six faith groups will participate this year. These faith groups will not receive payment for participation in the program.
As part of the same project, the nonprofit Bridge House Resource Center has expanded its schedule from two to five mornings per week. The city will provide $100,000 for the pilot programs, to be matched by the county and supplemented by $30,000 grants from The Denver Foundation and The Community Foundation.
As in Colorado Springs, the hope is that day shelter and services solve short-term problems, but also provide a place where people can be introduced to long-term resources and support. And these individual projects are part of a regional effort.
“We all know that nothing starts or stops at any one of our borders,” said Wendy Schwartz, planning and development program manager for the city of Boulder. ■
Denver Rescue Mission is raising money to stock the new kitchen and dining room at Lawrence Street Community Center. Visit bit.ly/drmkitchen to donate.