A Colorado Springs collaboration of government and nonprofit groups has received a five year, $1.5 million grant to combat homelessness and help substance abusers.

The grant comes from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The collaboration, called the Colorado Springs Shelter Plus Care Services Enhancement Project, is a joint effort of the Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group and the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Supportive Housing and Homeless Programs.

The goal is to help individuals become self-sufficient through employment or by obtaining state or federal benefits.

“In addition to providing traditional mental health care, we’ll help these individuals get a GED, train them for jobs in businesses like construction or catering and prepare them for job interviews,” said Morris Roth, president and CEO of Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group. “We want them under a roof – but we also want them to have skills and confidence.”

The project is an extension of the Shelter Plus Care program, which administered housing vouchers to 56 people last year. Under the grant, El Paso County will receive five installments of money. The first will be $250,000, and that amount will increase by $30,000 each year.

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The grant also covers outreach services to identify people at local shelters, soup kitchens and camps.