Collaboration brings safe and stable housing to veteran households in El Paso County
Freedom Springs supported living complex brings affordable housing to veterans in El Paso County.
Fifty of the most vulnerable veterans experiencing homelessness have found an affordable place to live in Freedom Springs, an apartment complex and support system that is the product of extensive collaborative efforts among local partners in El Paso County.
RMHS’ Homes for All Veterans program (HAV) played an integral role in identifying veterans to be housed. RMHS manages a list identifying the most at-risk veterans in the Pikes Peak region.
“One of the silver linings of COVID is that we had a number of the veterans housed in emergency housing which made it easier for us to transition them to Freedom Springs,“ said Scott Correa, HAV Outreach Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator.
The HAV program assists veterans in Colorado who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless find permanent housing.
Last year, the pandemic forced many at-risk and homeless veterans to live in emergency housing to protect them against the spread of COVID-19. Emergency housing made it easier to manage and locate the most vulnerable veterans on the list and work to get them into a more permanent and stable living situation.
“The list is difficult to manage because of the transient nature of homelessness,” Mr. Correa said.
HAV manages the list of veterans experiencing homelessness in the Pikes Peak region for Coordinated Entry program at the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care. The program is designed to assess their needs, assign them to housing and help meet their needs. RMHS has managed the list since 2015.
Local veteran organizations meet weekly to identify those who most need supported living housing. Community Health Partnerships, Volunteers of America (VOA), Springs Rescue Mission and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) work with partners to identify veterans.
The Vecino Group created the housing project to support at-risk veteran populations in the Pikes Peak region. The supported living housing complex was made in collaboration with the VA, VOA, Ross Property Management and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), Division of Housing.
Veterans living in Freedom Springs receive rental assistance through two vouchers provided by DOLA and the VA: the Housing Choice Voucher and HUD-VASH Voucher. Through the vouchers, veterans pay 30 percent of their income in rent making it an affordable housing option for veterans with low or no income. “We are currently focused on providing full wrap around services to veterans in the units,” said Sheila Guerrero, Freedom Springs VOA Supervisory Case Manager.
The complex provides supports and services for residents including access to a food pantry, transportation, case management and other essential services. More services such as employment services are developing to target the needs of these veterans living in Freedom Springs.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of these organizations 50 veterans and their families have a safe and secure place they can call home.