Once again, the word “interesting” comes to mind as I begin the Homeward Pikes Peak Annual Report for the tenth time.
Along with a judicious continuation of the Homeward Pikes Peak Homeless Outreach Program at the Aztec Motel, including the addition of drug testing as a prerequisite to admission to the program, we once again resumed management of the Housing First Pikes Peak Program.
In April of this year we became aware of gross financial mismanagement occurring in the Harbor House Collaborative. Unfortunately, this was a second occurrence in three years. In 2009, HPP took control of Harbor House for several months and of the Housing First Program, per se, for two years, to restore financial integrity to the Harbor House Collaborative.
In June of 2011 the Housing First Program was returned to Harbor House at the request of yet another executive director. Within a year of that date, HHC was in debt well over $100,000. I once again resumed control of Harbor House, but this time the damage seemed irreparable. The Housing First program was returned to Homeward Pies Peak where it will stay; and as of December 31, 2012, Harbor House Collaborative was dissolved as a not-for-profit corporation.
In order to save two excellent programs, staffed by very competent case managers, Homeward Pikes Peak has assumed the programs and liabilities of Harbor House Collaborative and is in the process of negotiating settlements with the IRS, the State of Colorado and various private sector creditors.
The new “Homeward Pikes Peak Family of Programs” will consist of Homeward Pikes Peak, per se, coordinating homeless services in the Pikes Peak region and serving as a first responder to homeless emergencies when other agencies either cannot or will not respond.
The Homeward Pikes Peak Homeless Outreach Program continues as an offshoot of the 2009-2010 homeless tent camping crisis which occurred in the creek beds running through the downtown area. We now serve approximately eighty homeless individuals at a time, half of whom are children. The balance usually consists of ten male homeless campers, ten single women with kids and ten adult couples with children.
To date, we are approaching 2,100 homeless individuals served, with 76% exiting the program to stable housing. We are also approaching 300 jobs acquired by clients. (All able-bodied adults are required to make from one to five job contacts daily and to perform eight hours of community service per week.) These 300 jobs put $125,000 yearly into the treasury of the City of Colorado Springs in sales tax revenues alone!
We have enhanced the program to include a small computer lab where resumes are constructed and job availabilities are downloaded. All adults participate in mock job interviews to sharpen their skills, and are outfitted for both interviews and work from a large “closet” of appropriate work clothes.
All school-age children are in local school district classrooms within 24 hours of entering our program. They utilize a homework program after school in a supervised setting. Cooperative babysitting is available for working moms, those doing community service or those out looking for jobs.
Individual and group counseling is available for all, and may be mandated for some. Parenting classes are offered in the same context. We are a drug and alcohol-free facility.
Our emergency shelter program is the most inclusive in the Pikes Peak Region. The only exclusions are violent or predatory sexual offenses and violent felonies. Many of our clients tell us that they feel more like they are in a community than in a program. The program manager corresponds with many “alumni” via Facebook and we have frequent visits from those who have moved on to jobs and stable housing from our program.
The Housing First Pikes Peak Program has finally found a permanent home. There is no plan to move this program away from Homeward Pikes Peak, where it was conceptualized in 2004. Funded in 2005, the program began with eighteen clients and has grown over the years to more than fifty, including ten contract clients managed for Greccio Housing.
Our retention rate is 86% and this is a measure of success. Our clients are generally too debilitated to work; but keeping them off the streets, where they average $60,000 in services used on an annual basis, saves taxpayers a net of $42,000 per client, per year, or over $2.1 million annually. Some “graduate” to Section 8 Housing, and we are able to move new clients in. We also have several clients who are active in volunteer work in the community.
We provide a monthly luncheon for everyone, and it is one of the nicest events in which I’m privileged to participate. We do this partially as a business meeting, where we can collect documentation of services used for federal match purposes; but it’s primarily an opportunity for socialization, and it’s a wonderful occasion. We publish a monthly “newspaper” for clients and have expanded the agenda to include a program each month with relevant information such as diet, organized fitness opportunities, etc.
Ancillary, and immeasurable, benefits include those accruing to family members who had previously given up hope for their loved one who was chronically homeless and suffering from both substance abuse and mental health problems. There is no way to describe the reuniting of a mom and dad with a son or daughter they had considered lost….
That same level of emotion is generated within a client’s heart and soul as s/he realizes that the “light at the end of the tunnel” is no longer a train heading toward them, but rather the true light of their rediscovering themselves as a worthwhile human being. Priceless!
The Homeward Pikes Peak Residential Recovery Program has become part of HPP as of January 1, 2013. The program serves substance abusers who have made a commitment to change their lives, but who need a great deal of support in doing so. To qualify for the residential component of the program, a client must first complete a six week “intensive outpatient program” where complete abstinence from substances is required. This is important not only to begin the process of recovery, but also to prep the clients for the expectations of the program.
During the program each client will be expected to look for work after a preparation of training in social interaction, expectations of the workplace, resume building and interviewing skills. This is done in tandem with group and individual counseling, participation in a Twelve-Step Program and satisfactorily maintaining his or her living space.
Clients are served in an apartment complex consisting of three buildings of four two-bedroom apartments each, and the capacity is twenty-two clients with one apartment for administration and meeting space.
Although this program is new to Homeward Pikes Peak, the executive director has worked with the program manager for years and he has every confidence that the program will continue to develop in a stellar fashion.
Harbor House Clinical Services is a multi-faceted set of programs designed to meet the needs of recovering addicts from various demographics. There are three main programs for women: the Women’s Addictions Recovery Group, the Mom’s Addictions Recovery Group and the Female Offenders’ Addictions Recovery Group. There is also a Men’s Addictions Recovery Group. Each program is tailored to meet the client where he or she is in progressing toward overcoming addictions. Topics covered, in general, include anger and stress management, relapse prevention, setting boundaries, breaking the cycle of addiction and incarceration and coping with emergencies and setbacks.