COLORADO SPRINGS – Applying for grants could help Colorado Springs and El Paso County find solutions for low-income and the homeless.
The grant provides El Paso County about a million dollars and Colorado Springs about $2.8 million, and it comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Agencies will use it to help low-income and homeless residents, and keep track of what’s working.
Jennifer Mariano keeps track of the homeless population in the Pikes Peak region.
Her data collection is funded by the Community Development Block Program.
The software she uses alone is worth $65,000.
But the results are invaluable, because they shed light on the fact that there may thousands more homeless than shown in a recent Point-In-Time survey.
“It’s super critical because 5,000 people versus the one-time count [of 1,500] is significantly different,” she said.
The more they know, the more resources they can request.
“If you don’t know how big the problem is, it’s hard to apply a solution or look for ways to fix it,” Mariano explained.
And the more resources these organizations have, the more they can fix.
“If [organizations] didn’t have financial resources to keep their operations going, to pay case workers, to have housing units, then we would have a much larger problem on our hands than we currently do,” she noted.
More importantly, the data can also prove when something is working.
“[We use it] to determine what things made someone successful,” she said.
“It does a great job of telling results,” said Crystal LaTier, executive director for El Paso County Housing Authority.
“And that’s what you want to show, that we are being effective and efficient with federal tax dollars and really helping the community.”
LaTier says the growing population has increased a need for things like permanent supportive housing.
This provides a home for folks at risk of homelessness, while also providing them the mental health and career resources for a stable lifestyle.