Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Governments, Non-Profits, and the Homeless

Our humble town, Colorado Springs, has been through a recent debate over what to do with what has become a very visible homeless problem in the past few months. These issues are never quick or clean, and cities will always have its critics no matter what they do. But our homeless tent cities were becoming a public and health hazard, so something needed to be done. This article in our local paper summarizes what has been a tremendous series of events for the city and the homeless, beginning with our city and county making it hard to “camp.”

So here is what happened. First the city and county made it hard to stay homeless for a long time in the tent cities that were springing up through the center of town – they made it illegal to camp on city and county property. Second, a local, private foundation provided funds for the recently dispossessed homeless to have temporary housing. But, as one worker put it, there were conditions:

Homeward Pikes Peak executive director Bob Holmes makes it clear, however, that there were strings attached: Those who get a motel room are required to beat the streets to find a job.

Third, a few more local individuals attached to another local nonprofit stepped up to the plate and helped the homeless find jobs. The result?

Don’t tell Teresa McLaughlin it’s impossible to land a job in Colorado Springs. She knows 103 people who have found work in the past 100 days, beating enormous odds that had as much to do with their circumstances as the economy.

Looks like a win-win from here.

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