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Salvation Army taking a big step to combat family homelessness - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Salvation Army taking a big step to combat family homelessness

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Big changes are on the way for the Salvation Army's Colorado Springs shelter. The quickest growing demographic of homelessness is families and the Salvation Army is trying to add more space for families in the shelter.

The Salvation Army's RJ Montgomery shelter downtown will be doubling it's beds for families from 40 to 80 of the 220 total beds currently available. The new effort for families is being called, "The Pathway of Hope."

"The specific need we address today is the need to provide shelter for homeless families with children," said Mayor John Suthers at the announcement for the renovations. 

The Mayor alongside Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army discussed the issues of family homelessness at a press conference Thursday morning. 

"What we've seen is that the number one issue they're facing is the gap in shelter and supportive housing," said Catholic Charities CEO Andy Barton. 

"We're shifting our focus to be a family shelter," said Capt. David Kauffman from the Salvation Army, "Over the next few months we're going to roll out plans. The model we're using is called Pathway of Hope"

The Salvation Army's RJ Montgomery shelter has 220 beds, 40 of which are for families, that will double to 80 but the total of 220 will remain."Pathway of Hope" will start November 1st. 

"It's hard to find work that would be able to support a family of 12," said Corrie Mitchell a mother of ten children living in the family area of RJ Montgomery.

"My oldest is 15 and then I have a 13 year old, eleven, ten, nine, seven, almost six, almost five, almost three and 18 months," said Mitchell.

Corrie and her family moved from Illinois after her husband got a job in Colorado in telecommunication engineering, but the job fell through. 

"We ended up not being able to pay our bills and became homeless," said Mitchell, "And when you go from having money to nothing there's no chance for you."

Currently men and women are split at RJ Montgomery, women stay with the children and teens live in an auxiliary space.

A $300,000 to $500,000 renovation will add more space to the family side like creating better bathroom spaces for families.

"It's pretty difficult, there's a lot more families than there used to be that are homeless and having more room for families is very important," said Mitchell.

Transitioning families to permanent housing is important too, another half million will go towards renovating low income apartments at the Salvation Army's main campus on Yuma Street to better suit families.

"I wish there was a lot more family oriented shelters out there because there's not that many," said Mitchell.

Corrie and her family are set to move into transitional housing through Partners in Housing. The homeless services in town are working together on the family issues. As the Salvation Army transitions away from 40 of their single beds over the next few months the Springs Rescue Mission is stepping up to shelter people that would have been at RJ Montgomery. 

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