By Evan Vann
The city of Grand Junction has organized a Traveler's Aid Fund to ease the city’s homelessness problem.
Officer David Keech of the GJPD Community Resource Unit said that the goal of the fund is to provide assistance to homeless individuals who find themselves stranded in the Grand Junction area. The fund helps an individual buy a bus ticket out of town to a destination where he or she can receive further help. The program received a $2,000 donation from the city as seed money, but is otherwise funded solely on donations from individuals and businesses in the community.
Keech addressed possible criticisms that the program is a “put them all on a bus solution” by clarifying that the fund is for rehabilitation, not relocation. “We don’t want to make the homeless people here homeless somewhere else,” said Keech. On-duty “watch commanders,” the day-to-day managers of the fund, take precautions to make sure its recipients are going somewhere with a plan. “If there’s people stuck here, with no means of leaving, we want to make sure that wherever they go they have a job lined up or a home or rehab bed waiting for them,” said Keech.
The program has received praise from homeless advocates across the region. Megan Kemmis, director of marketing at Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley, the region's homeless shelter, expressed gratitude toward the fund and its partners. “It isn’t a program that just ships the homeless out,” said Kemmis. “The people at the police department have done a great job at making sure it actually helps people.” ■