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A long term process: Camping ban enforcement in Colorado Springs

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 03, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS – “There’s still work to be done to encourage folks to seek out services,” said Travis Williams with Springs Rescue Mission. The Rescue Mission recently expanded the number of beds available for the homeless.  Only you still see evidence of people choosing to camp on Colorado Springs public right of rather than use homeless services.

A judge previously ruled, camping ban enforcement requires enough shelter space for everyone who needs it. Just before the end of 2018, shelter space increased to a point where enforcement increased. “The city enforces the camping ban every day,” said Colorado Springs Homeless Prevention and Response Coordinator, Andrew Phelps. As the camping ban is enforced, homeless campers are directed to homeless services. Some may go, others find another spot to set up camp.

There are new numbers showing that more people are possibly choosing to utilize shelters instead of camping. “In the month of December we had over 150 first time guests come to the Rescue Mission,” said Williams, “So those are folks that have never sought services from us before.” More tracking needs to happen to determine the reason for the results, but it is encouraging.

Providing shelter beds as an option to camping is an early step in Colorado Springs plans for the homeless that will expand in 2019. “We’re bringing homeless outreach court to our community. We’re adding additional staff with neighborhood services that will help clean-up camps. We’re also going to be looking at increasing homeless outreach in our community, and also finding ways to fund homeless work programs,” said Phelps. It is an issue with no quick fixes.