Did you know that there are three programs in Colorado Springs that provide housing specifically for homeless veterans? Did you know that YOU can directly help these vets in several ways?
Two homeless veterans programs have offices in the Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic building at 25 N. Spruce Street. Both programs provide housing vouchers, case management, and medical/mental health/substance abuse treatment. To qualify for either program, a veteran must have an Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions discharge.
One of these programs is the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program. Jack Freeman is the coordinator/case manager. This program includes Homeless Outreach (referral services), Shelter Plus Care (14 housing vouchers), and Contract Housing (10 beds at the Crawford House – more on that later). Housing vouchers are provided by the VA, and by HUD through the Colorado Springs Housing Authority.
Another program is HUD/VASH (Housing and Urban Development/Veterans Affairs Supported Housing). Roxann Crouse is the coordinator/case manager. Vouchers are provided by the VA, and by HUD through the Colorado and Denver Housing Authorities. Currently the program has vouchers for 35 vets; 25 more vouchers have recently been authorized with the addition of another case manager.
A few volunteers assist with tasks not covered by funding sources, including weekly distribution of donated food and picking up and distributing donated household items.
While these programs help with rent, they do not fund anything else a homeless veteran needs when he or she finally has an apartment to call home. Many of the vets entering the programs do not have a job, perhaps are unable to hold a job, and are not receiving disability pay or social security payments. They need food, furniture, kitchen items, bedding, towels, lamps, toiletries, clothes, etc. Some of them have families and need children’s items. New mattresses are especially needed; until they get one, the vets sleep on the floor.
A third entity which provides temporary housing and case management for homeless vets is the Crawford House at 415 S. Weber which was established by the Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition (CVRC), a 501.c.3 non-profit created by a group of veterans working with VA clinic staff. Crawford House is managed by a paid Program Director, Vicky Pettis. It was created to provide safe, healthy emergency housing and community-based residential care, treatment and rehabilitative services for veterans who are homeless and/or have substance abuse and/or chronic mental illness. Residents, who must have an Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions discharge, receive VA-provided medical care, training in independent living skills and job search assistance.
Crawford House is actually three co-located buildings housing 25 veterans. Ten of the beds in the main building are contracted for by the HCHV Program; 5 are contracted for by the VA Substance Abuse Program; 10 beds in the 2 adjacent transition houses are controlled by CVRC. The facility is funded by VA contracts, grants, individual and corporate donations, fund-raisers, contributions from the Fort Carson Thrift Store, and rent paid by vets in the transitional housing.
Volunteers assist CVRC and Crawford house by providing transportation, cooking group meals, organizing events, etc.
Crawford House is entered in the Pepsi Refresh Project to compete for a $250,000 grant which would be used to purchase an additional building. You can vote multiple times for Crawford House until November 30th. Go to http://www.refresheverything.com/, click on Food and Shelter, then $250,000. Under the Shuffled Ideas menu, click on Near You. The Crawford House grant request is listed as “Purchase a larger facility to safely house homeless veteran families.” Click Vote, register, then click Vote again.
Veterans who are waiting to be accommodated in any of these programs are living in shelters, motels, campsites, friends’ homes, or their cars. You can help by donating cash, by fund-raising, by donating items, or by volunteering. Tax receipts for charitable donations are available. If you want to directly help local homeless veterans, please call any of the following:
Roxann Crouse 327-5699 Jack Freeman 667-5588 Vicky Pettis 477-1639