Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Homeless respond to new ordinance

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Life continues to happen for homeless.
  • "Life" continues to "happen" for homeless.

Yesterday, Colorado Springs City Council voted 8-1 to approve an ordinance that makes camping on city public lands illegal.

This move will out an end to the city's famous "tent city" — hundreds of homeless living in temporary shelters along our creek beds. While many homeless locals told Council the ordinance would be a disaster, some formerly homeless folks are already planning where to go from here. Lyn Harwell, Director of Programs for Springs Rescue Mission, which offers transitional programs for homeless men, sent out the following press release this morning:

Formerly Homeless Reach Out After City Ban
Current residents in homeless recovery program offer solutions to tent city campers

Colorado Springs, CO - In response to the recent decision by the city council to pass an ordinance that bans camping in public places, Springs Rescue Mission has put into place an action plan to offer immediate services to the homeless currently living in tents throughout the city. The plan involves expanding its available bed capacity within the rescue mission’s New Life recovery program. The one year residential program offers a solution to those who want to transition from life on the streets to a more permanent and positive way of living.

Springs Rescue Mission has played a major role in a consortium of homeless service agencies, organized by Homeward Pikes Peak, to provide appropriate, high quality programs that assist homeless individuals in moving from the despair of homelessness and substance abuse to the hope of a better quality, self-sufficient life.

To facilitate awareness, a group consisting of current residents in recovery from the Mission’s program will be visiting area homeless camp sites, along with members from the H.O.T (Homeless Outreach Team), distributing information and inviting interested men to explore the entry process. “I personally know a lot of those guys living in the tents from my recent days as a homeless individual myself,” says Dave a current Rescue Mission resident. “I just want to tell those living in tents how my life has changed in a more positive direction since I became a part of the New Life Program at the Mission. I’ve been there and know that there’s something better that’s possible.”

Lyn Harwell, Director of Programs spoke on behalf of the Mission, “Springs Rescue Mission has no desire to offer opinions on a matter of city governance. Regardless of city regulations, the rescue mission has been— and will remain, a safe place for people and families in need of free food, clothing, and urgent care. Our long-term goal is to offer live changing services to society's marginalized individuals ready and willing to break habits of poverty or addiction. Frequently this takes a serious commitment of time and effort building relationships, healing long-standing wounds, and teaching self-sufficiency.
There is no doubt that our community has tremendous compassion and concern for everyone who is without a home or living on the edge of homelessness. Springs Rescue Mission has been helping those in need for 14 years. Regardless of local legislation, we purpose to be a hub and connecting point where the people of our community and local church can learn about the issues, learn how to offer real help to those in poverty or homelessness, and walk along side someone in need of honest love, help, and support.”

In addition, the Mission has expanded its hours and the number of people it serves. Currently, Springs Rescue Mission is serving more than 20,000 meals each month and housing nearly 40 men in transitional treatment.

Donations to help keep the programs going and volunteers to serve are always needed.

Springs Rescue Mission is located at: 1 W. Las Vegas St. in Colorado Springs. To learn more about Springs Rescue Mission, call (719) 632-1822 or visit the web site at: www.springsrescuemission.org.


For the record, the ordinance is not yet in effect, and won't be until Council gives its final approval.

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