COLORADO SPRINGS — The R.J. Montgomery Center in downtown Colorado Springs which provides shelter for families experiencing homelessness now has a new name- the R.J. Family Hope Center.
The shelter officially reopened Thursday after finishing renovations to become a family-only shelter. The space can now serve double the number of families than before with 31 private rooms. The Salvation Army of El Paso County said fathers are now able to stay with their family unit instead of being separated into a men-only side of the building.
"If a family came, a dad would go there, and the mom and her kids will go to the other side. Now the shelter is 31 individual rooms set for each family," said Captain Doug Hanson, the El Paso County Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
Jose Barreras is one of 14 fathers living in the shelter. He and his eight-year-old daughter have been staying in their private room for three weeks after his wife passed away in March.
"This place, you know, has really helped us out a lot. Because if it wasn't for them, you know, allowing men and children, because most places don't allow men and children, then we would be on the streets," said Barreras.
Hanson said the Salvation Army saw the need to help more families last year after Family Promise and City Hope, two family shelters in Colorado Springs, closed their doors last summer. He said the single men and women that stayed at the R.J. Montgomery Center before its reopening have been transplanted to the Springs Rescue Mission.
Hanson said the Family Hope Center is already at full capacity just 10 days after its soft reopening for families.
"The need is clear for family sheltering," he said. "Now having them all together, the family can better collaborate together to try and solve their problem. Because we're not here to shelter people. We're here to transition them into self-sufficiency."
The Salvation Army said 60% of families staying at the shelter have moved on to apartments or other housing programs.
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