May 8, 2011 7:57 PM by Matt Stafford

Express Inn residents asked to leave

Nearly two years ago, when homeless people were told to leave the camps along the creeks in Colorado Springs, many found a home at the Express Inn. However, this weekend, they're packing up; once again told they have to leave.

"Tuesday they hung letters saying that the 9th it's over," says Matthew Henderson, a former employee and resident at the Express Inn.

"I was devastated. I didn't know what to do," adds Amy Dutcher, a resident moving out who has two small children.

For many, the big question is where to go?

"I have to go back to work tomorrow," says Lynn Burke, who's lived at the Express Inn for years. "I'm supposed to do this all in three days."

In March, News First 5 reported that the Express Inn was in jeopardy of being foreclosed. The owners, Grot Cimarron L.L.C., were behind $1.3 million on a $2.2 million dollar loan.

The CC Boarding Home Annex opened an office in the Express Inn in 2008. Recently they've been managing the property and continuing their non-profit -- providing low income shelter.

In March, employees said that the owner was out of the country and the non-profit's organizers were looking to buy the property. Now employees are saying that the deal fell through.

Administrators for the CC Boarding Home Annex wouldn't talk to News First 5.

Residents are moving on.

"A good percent of them are already gone," says Philip Blevins, a resident getting ready to leave. "All these people, they don't have anywhere to go; just back in the streets, live under the bridge like they do over there."

It's tough to leave though, because for many the Express Inn was a big help.

"It's been pretty good for me. It's been pretty good for me getting me back on my feet, keeping me off of drugs," says Blevins.

So now what? Residents moving on are concerned that shelters will be running out of room. In March, employees said if the Express Inn closed that 100 to 150 people would be on the streets.

"Who knows what's going to happen," Blevins says.

"You guys are going to have tents back on the creek," Henderson adds.

Dutcher agrees, "It's going to put us back to tent city I think."

"That's not going to happen again," says Bob Holmes, director for Homeward Pikes Peak. "I don't see it happening because of the Express Inn." Holmes' group used the Express Inn to get people out of the tent cities back in late-2009/early-2010. He says now Colorado Springs has resources in place to handle an influx of homeless people, but they're still keeping an eye on this situation.

"We'll be working with all of the agencies to take care of this problem."

Holmes says Homeward Pikes Peak has been working with groups interested in buying and revamping the Express Inn. He says they want to use it in the same way -- as a shelter for the low-income and homeless.

Holmes does warn of health problems coming from the Express Inn. He says they've had issues with bed bugs, and adds that service providers should take extra precaution when helping people coming from the Express Inn. Holmes suggests providing a place to wash all of their linens and dry them - using very high heat.



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