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New approach to helping homeless library visitors

Posted: 6:09 PM, Dec 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-07 22:22:22-05

COLORADO SPRINGS- A new homeless hangout concerning people in Colorado Springs. Crowds are now showing up at the downtown library. It could get worse when the city’s largest homeless camp is cleared out.

The Quarry homeless camp is located near Fountain and Wahsatch southeast of downtown. It’s only about a mile walk to the downtown library making it a popular destination for many of those people to warm up and even charge cell phones.

We’ve learned the library has hired a social worker to help those who say they have nowhere else to go.

Outside the Penrose library in downtown Colorado Springs the city’s battle with homelessness is on full display. Clothes, sleeping bags, and grocery carts litter the street outside the library doors.

“Our branch does happen to be positioned in an area that has lots of services for those experiencing homelessness,” said Penrose Library Branch Manager Antonia Krupica-Smith.

Inside the library people lounge with sleeping bags, suitcases, and even a small dog.

“They come here to use our computers. They come here to use our study rooms. They come here to search for jobs,” said Krupica-Smith.

Seeing the need, the Penrose Library hired social worker Alicia Kwande in mid-October to help the people who feel they have nowhere else to go.

“I’m able to connect them with other community agencies and other resources around the community,” said Kwande.

This is a new approach for the downtown library in taking on the reality of homelessness.

“It takes awhile to get to know someone and build a trusting relationship and that’s what my role is. I am still in the process of building trust with a lot of people,” said Kwande.

The Penrose Library social worker will also share strategies with other cities like Denver where social workers are now on the library staff.

Library leaders say in addition to their added social work, they’re depending on city leaders to create more affordable housing for the people who need it most.

RELATED: Services being offered before city clears out largest homeless camp