Jun 3, 2014 12:13 AM by Maddie Garrett

Helping Homeless Vets Might Put Others Out of a Home

A non-profit is buying an apartment complex in Colorado Springs to house homeless vets. It sounds like a positive program, but it might not be such a great deal for the people who live in the 10 unit complex off of Fontmore.

Many of the tenants are elderly and disabled. For them, finding a new place to live with comparable rent and moving could be tough.

JoAnn Norris hasn't found a new place yet, but she's already packing up.

"I'm looking right now for a place," said the 71-year-old resident.

She just moved in last November and had finally gotten settled in when she got the notice she would have to leave.

"So it was just four months after I got here I was told I had to get out," said Norris.

Representatives from the Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition (CVRC) came by and handed out letters in February that the non-profit was buying the complex, and that no leases would be renewed.

"It's not our intent to put anybody out," said CVRC spokesperson, Jay Magee.

But Norris and some of the other tenants told News 5, they feel like that's what's happening.

"They're making me homeless so they can open a homeless shelter," said Norris.

Magee said they're trying to work with tenants to help make the move as easy as possible. Magee said CVRC chose that location on Fontmore because it's only a mile from the new VA clinic being built.

The apartments will operate similar to a half-way house, but it's specifically available for homeless veterans to help those who might be struggling with drug addiction or mental health problems.

The first veterans could move in as early as July or August, and everyone else will have to be out by November. That's when Norris' lease is up.

"Hopefully they'll let me out of my lease early," she said.

Magee said they're working with tenants to allow them to leave early, and won't penalize anyone.

"As much as we can we will return all of their security deposits," he explained.

Still, at 71 years old, Norris was planning on staying at that apartment for the rest of her life. She doesn't want to go through the moving process again.

"I had to rent a truck to come over here, and I had to pay movers to move me, and it gets very expensive," she said.

Norris hopes CVRC will follow through and help her through this process. Meanwhile, she's trying to keep a positive outlook.

"God has a reason for uprooting me," she concluded.

Magee said the housing for homeless vets will help give them a "leg up" and will expand veteran services in Southern Colorado. He said the longest a veteran will be able to stay at the apartments is 24 months, and vets will have to apply for assistance through the VA Homeless Programs Office at the current VA clinic.



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