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Phelps wants homeless shelter at Westside Community Center, but no plans now

At a recent community discussion in the Westside Community Center, Colorado Springs Homelessness Prevention Coordinator Andrew Phelps (left) sits with City Councilmember Richard Skorman and El Paso County Sheriff's Bureau Chief Clif Northam.
Westside Pioneer photo
July 19, 2018
       City Homelessness Prevention Coordinator Andrew Phelps would like to see a rescue shelter for homeless people in the Westside Community Center.
       He suggested this concept when speaking to several Westside residents recently. It's related to his belief that shelters should be situated all over the city, he explained, noting that “there aren't any homeless shelters on the Westside.”
       However, he clarified to the Westside Pioneer that at this time using the Westside Community Center for a shelter is only his idea, and that the city is taking no steps toward that happening.
       Phelps wanted this on the record because he thinks that in stating his idea, some people have taken it as an indication that the city is already planning for it.
       The Community Center uses the former Buena Vista school buildings and is surrounded on all sides by an established neighborhood.
       Asked why he thinks this would make a good location, Phelps (who's been with the city for about a year) pointed out that the center is a place where the community already gathers. The site also has been used for Westside CARES' food pantry for the needy since 2010.
       Another Pioneer question was how Phelps thought the people living near the Community Center would feel about having a homeless shelter in their midst. He said they should "understand the need."
       An unknown is how much of a need that will be, going forward. Phelps recently told City Council that about 300 shelter beds (not on the Westside) are to be added to the inventory by November. For the time being, that should be enough to handle all the people who might otherwise wind up camping in public places, council was told.
       Phelps has previously said that the city's longer-range goal for improving homelessness in the Springs is the availability of more permanent housing, with the provision of support services as needed.

Westside Pioneer article
(Community: Ongoing Issues)

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