The Power of Community
There are a lot of reasons that the veterans support community in Colorado Springs is special, but one that stands out is collaboration.
Rocky Mountain Human Services’ Homes for All Veterans program is among those partners who work hard to ensure that needy veterans are supported by whichever organization has the right resources for a particular circumstance, and efforts aren’t duplicated.
“The goal is that we all work together to meet the needs of veterans,” said Alison Gerbig, HAV program manager.
HAV provides outreach, case management and support accessing community and mainstream resources to veteran households who are experiencing homelessness or are in danger of homelessness. During fiscal year 2020, the program supported 1,214 veterans and their families across Colorado with about 450 from Colorado Springs.
When HAV cannot provide a particular resource or service, HAV works with other organizations to fill the need.
Home Front Military Network (HFMN) is one of those organizations. HFMN connects service members, veterans and their families to essential resources and financial assistance. The statewide service supports military and veteran communities access diverse resources to meet their needs.
“We work together to complement the work and not duplicate efforts,” said Kate Hatten, HFMN Executive Director.
HAV works with HFMN to so veterans get the help that HFMN offers. HFMN's partner agency network provides an umbrella of culturally competent resources including employment, disability and educational resources. The reverse is also true. HFMN refers to HAV those veterans who need support finding stable housing solutions.
About 10 to 12 years ago the community collaboration was not as strong, Hatten said. As collaboration blossomed, so too did the ability to best support the military and veterans in need.
Earlier this year HFMN, HAV and the City of Colorado Springs collaborated to create the Pikes Peak Veterans Housing Fund (PPVHF) in support of a plan to end veteran homelessness in Colorado Springs. The community program creates more opportunities to increase housing stability for vulnerable veterans experiencing homelessness and are struggling to maintain stable housing through incentives and support.
These collaborative efforts created an essential piece to fill the gaps in creating stable lifestyles for veterans.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated veterans’ needs, and underscored the strengths of the collaboration that the Colorado Springs veterans support community had painstakingly created over the years.
HAV utilized funding from the CARES Act to house hundreds of veterans across Colorado in emergency housing. Hotels and motels were able to work with them to make that happen quickly. A few of the hotels that worked with HAV to house the veterans were the Springs Inn, Travelers Uptown Motel, and the Circle S Motel.
In addition to the collaboration with motels for housing, other organizations stepped in to ensure that veterans had other basic needs met.
Mount Carmel Veteran Services and Homeward Pikes Peak worked with HAV to help veterans access basic necessities such as food. The food donated by these organizations went to veterans in emergency housing in hotels and motels. The combined efforts gave some veterans an opportunity to take precautions to protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19.
HAV continues to look for permanent solutions for veterans in emergency housing while they work with other organizations to help veterans in the program gain stability, find employment and live healthy lifestyles.
With the community effort of organizations in Colorado Springs, they show how targeted outreach and collaboration can better support veterans and their families.