The organization, which is dedicated to serving those suffering from homelessness, poverty and addiction, is right in the middle of its expansion campaign, according to Natasha Allen, development coordinator with SRM.
“We’re focusing on permanent supportive housing — a 65-unit apartment-style complex — primarily for those who take a little longer to transition out of homelessness,” she said. “So it’s for those with mental illness and those suffering from homelessness that isn’t incidental.”
The mission is also preparing for its commercial kitchen expansion, which will grow dining capabilities from 65 seats today to 200 seats.
“Right now we’re doing multiple seatings throughout the day — four for breakfast and four for dinner,” Allen said. “Typically, that means clients sometimes will have to stand outside in the cold for a meal for 30 minutes to an hour.”
SRM has already expanded its resource center, which houses daytime activities and navigators who help clients on a day-to-day basis, including obtaining IDs and setting up appointments with the Department of Human Services. Clients also have access to showers and a laundry facility.
According to Stu Davis, director of mobilization at SRM, the mission is also expanding the number of clients it can house overnight.
“Our stated capacity is 200. [Recently], with the cold, we were at 250 men in a 200-bed shelter. We had to keep a cap on the women because that’s all the space we have. But that’s one thing we’re expanding.
“We have three separate shelters. In the next couple weeks, we’re opening a third facility that will function as a 150-bed entry shelter. For somebody just trying to get shelter, they go in there, it’s very spartan, but warm, safe, dry.
“If they would like to get involved in a program or case management, get moving down the track, they can go to one of the separate men’s/women’s shelters.”
Allen said the next step is creating permanent supportive housing, which is planned to open in spring 2019.
The total expansion is slated at $6 million, and Davis said the mission has secured funding or commitments for half of that.
“We’re still trying to work on the last $3 million,” he said. “There are a lot of conversations happening in the community. We feel like this is an important part of the [city’s] economic development, particularly in the Southwest quadrant. You talk about the [U.S.] Olympic Museum [and Hall of Fame] opening up and the new Switchbacks [soccer team’s downtown] stadium — all that stuff is up and down Sierra Madre [Street], which is the primary thoroughfare between the Springs Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities.
“When we open our dining hall, we’ll go from serving just breakfast and dinner — Marian House serves the midday meal — to serving all free meals during the day,” Davis said, “which will dramatically cut down on the foot traffic on Sierra Madre every day.”
Davis said the mission houses 23 agencies “that are actively involved in the resource center. That’s eliminating the 5- or 7-mile commute these folks are making around downtown just to find daily services.”
But Davis said he did expect the capital campaign to have raised more money than it has.
“When we launched this capital campaign three years ago to do this campus expansion, as with all capital campaigns, you kind of burst out of the gates and the first 50, 60, 75 percent comes in quickly,” Davis said. “It’s the last percentage that typically takes the longest to come in. … We’re very thrilled with the response we’ve gotten from donors and contributors and volunteers throughout the community, but we would love to get this project wrapped up as soon as possible.”
Give! donations to SRM this year will help expand services, Davis said.
“This year it will definitely go to expanding these services — not necessarily the capital investments we’re making to the campus — but certainly the ongoing programmatic expenses, like caring for 450 people overnight,” he said.
How big of an impact has SRM made on homelessness in Colorado Springs?
“We’re making an enormous dent. … Roughly a third of the city’s 1,500 homeless were considered to be chronically homeless last year. You’re talking about 500-some people in the community who need shelter. We’re creating a space for almost that entire number. That’s a pretty astounding thing to be a part of.”