‘Miracle meters’ appear at Red Rock Center

       Homeward Pikes Peak has begun seeking businesses to house artistically rendered parking meters into which people can drop coins that will help homeless people find alternatives to living by creeks and trails. Robert Maez' UPS store in the Red Rock shopping center was the first in the city to have one of the “miracle meters” (as they're known), according to Bob Holmes, director of Homeward Pikes Peak.

LEFT: Bargain Mart. RIGHT: Red Rock Nails

LEFT: Papa Murphy's. RIGHT: Sakura

       Four others in the Red Rock Center also now have meters this week (thanks to Maez picking them out after a judging event downtown Nov. 16).
       Holmes' agency has taken over the meter effort from Jerry Heimlicher. The former city resident and councilmember (who recently returned to his home state of Tennessee) had been impressed by a similar program in Denver, saying it would provide a way for generously minded people to aid the homeless rather than by giving to beggars themselves, who are often likely to squander such freebies on booze or drugs.
       Any other business owners who would like to have such meters in their stores are asked to contact Holmes at 955-0731 or to drop by City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave., between 9 and 10:30 a.m. weekdays and “get one they like,” Holmes said this week. There is no charge. Going into this week, local artists had finished or nearly finished creative treatments on just over 100 meters. Of these, about two-thirds of them are already committed to specific stores, he said, so about 35 remain to be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
       Holmes plans to use meter money to fund case management for the “chronically homeless.” From a financial standpoint, he estimated that people living in camps long- term have an average individual cost to the city of $55,000 a year - with the main cost resulting from emergency calls when they get drunk and pass out somewhere. By comparison, case management for a homeless person who's gotten off the street is $3,000 a year, he said. Currently Homeward Pikes Peak oversees case management for 27 people, he said, but has to fundraise for much of the cost. That's where the meters can be helpful. If each one makes $5 a week, Holmes

The UPS Center in Red Rock Center, owned by Robert Maez (background, left) was the first business in the city to display a "miracle meter."
Westside Pioneer photo
estimated the meters could contribute $26,000 in all to the cause in a year.

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