Colorado

Sep 13, 2010 8:02 PM by Matt Stafford

The helpers need some help

It may be warm this time of year, but cold weather isn't far away. So homeless advocates are doing extra work to get ready for the winter, but this year they may be a little short on help.

Colorado Springs Police say of the 100 to 150 homeless still remaining, most of them are a hard group to reach -- many with addiction and mental health problems.

This year, helping out the homeless may be more difficult; one of the first groups that the police's Homeless Outreach Team turns to for help may not be there.

For the homeless, once they've reached the bottom, some say it can be hard to look back up.

"That mentality just creeps in and starts taking over," says Sidney Davis, a participant in the Resource Advocacy Program who was homeless from 2001 until this year.

Davis says Colorado Springs has services for the homeless, but for him, they weren't panning out. He knows, at the time, some of that may have been his fault.

"It remains to the individual, whether they want that (to change) bad enough," says Davis.

That's what he's finally been able come to terms with, as he's found place to live with help from the Resource Advocacy Program. -- or R.A.P. for short.

"They just generally provide a lot of help for people around here," Davis says about the program.

In 2005, community organizations saw a gap in helping those with addiction and mental health problems.

"They were having difficulty getting into services and staying with services once they got in," explains Dee Drake, director of the R.A.P.

Through a half-million-dollar grant over the last five years, the resource advocates have been working as partners to help the homeless find help.

As people like Davis saw others having success, they tried it as well.

"They can be used as a stepping stone to get to those organizations," Davis explains.

It's finally getting Davis the help he's needed, but now the program is in need. The grant is running out October 1st of this year, and funding sources they planned on to continue aren't there in this tough economy.

For now, the Springs Rescue Mission is trying to hold them a float.

"We said we just can't let this go down," says Lyn Harwell, chief operating officer of the Springs Rescue Mission.

But, they don't have the money.

"We're just not currently budgeted for it, it's not a budgeted item" Harwell explains.

They're trying to raise $50,000 to keep the program going another six months. Harwell says if they can buy another six months, they have ideas on how to make the program self-sustaining.

They're against the clock. If they can't get help now, the program will close.

Harwell says need to have funding, at least pledged, by October 1st to keep the R.A.P. running.

For more information, you can visit the Springs Rescue Mission's website by clicking here.

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