COLORADO SPRINGS – The Springs Rescue Mission is looking to expand facilities for the homeless in Colorado Springs by adding another 150 beds this fall inside a building already on the property.
The Supportive Family Services building will need to be cleared out and currently, it is partly used for donation storage.
“It’s going to be a Herculean effort to get everything moved around,” said Travis Williams, the Chief Development Officer at the Springs Rescue Mission.
The Downtown Review Board has granted a conditional use permit for the site. Plans for the expansion still need to go through the building permitting process.
“Ultimately we felt that this was a good proposal that all-in-all would be good not only for that neighborhood but for downtown as a whole,” added Stuart Coppedge, Chair of the Downtown Review Board.
The goal is to have the shelter up and running in November before the harsh winter temperatures move in.
“We feel that pressure because we want to make sure that we’re able to serve as many people who need shelter as possible come those colder temperatures,” said Williams.
The proposal before the Downtown Review Board on Wednesday morning calls for remodeling of a building on the south side of the facility near W. Las Vegas Street and Tejon Street. The proposed location is currently used for other shelter purposes which will be moved to a recently purchased industrial facility on the same property.
The expanded shelter facility will follow the same protocol as the existing center, only allowing guests to stay in the evening so staff can service and clean during the day.
A proposal from the Echo Architecture states the changes are considered temporary, so restrooms will not be added to the existing building, rather portable restrooms will be placed on the loading docks.
The proposal from Springs Rescue Mission cites the 2018 Point in Time survey that documented information from 513 people in the Colorado Springs homeless community, an increase of 11 percent from the 2017 survey.
Opened in 1998, the Springs Rescue Mission contains 150 permanent beds for the community, a day center and a kitchen/dining center for those in need. Overall the facility provides residential, meals, counseling, and education.
According to supporters, the additional beds would help in addressing problems with homeless camping along public trails and creeks, which is illegal in Colorado Springs.
However, critics of the expansion contacted city planners and the shelter to express their concerns that adding more beds will bring more crime, vandalism, and litter to the surrounding Mill Street neighborhood.
“The concentration of the homeless in this part of town due to the presence of the rescue mission concentrates crime, aggressive panhandling and vandalism. This is not to say that all homeless are criminals but to deny the correlation of homelessness and crime is unrealistic.” – citizen comment
“The more beds the Springs Mission obtains, the more homeless problems occur. This is not a coincidence.” – citizen comment
City code requires the Downtown Review Board to approve a conditional use permit for the site. The outcome is final unless an appeal is filed. The proposal would then be heard by the Colorado Springs city council.
Under the requirements for granting conditional use permits, the Downtown Review Board must find the project complies with the following:
- A. Surrounding Neighborhood: That the value and qualities of the neighborhood surrounding the
conditional use are not substantially injured.
- B. Intent Of Zoning Code: That the conditional use is consistent with the intent and purpose of
this Zoning Code to promote public health, safety and general welfare.
- C. Comprehensive Plan: That the conditional use is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan of
City planners note that the facility is already zoned for the expansion and that the proposal does fall within the Comprehensive Plan of the City. However, the impact on the neighborhood is not so easy to measure, according to city planners.
Nearby property owners were contacted in early August to provide their input on the proposal, with a follow-up neighborhood meeting on August 30th.
For its part, the facility has worked with those impacted to draft a ‘Good Neighbor Agreement‘ to set expectations for communication, safety, cleanliness, outreach, and general operation. There’s also work in progress to update the 2001 Mill Street Preservation Plan for neighborhood-wide improvements.
The plan put forth by the architect states adding the additional beds for the winter will help keep the number of homeless camps in the neighborhood down while providing more services to those in need.
MORE – Official City of Colorado Springs Downtown Review Board agenda documents