GJ homeless get new digs | PostIndependent.com

GJ homeless get new digs

Sharon Sullivan
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” Judy Chambers, 63, admits she’s made some poor choices in her life, and she’s grateful for another chance.

“I was in a battering relationship and life wasn’t good for me. I thought life would be like that forever,” Chambers said.

Thursday, Chambers moved in to a beautiful new apartment thanks to Grand Valley Catholic Outreach and the generosity of several community partners.

Until Thursday, Chambers had slept on floors and couches at other people’s houses, and outside in freezing temperatures last winter.

“I woke up one morning with a roach in my ear,” Chambers said.

She got in trouble with the law five years ago for selling marijuana. She thought it would be her way out of poverty. Instead it put her in community corrections. But there she said she learned to make good choices. She also learned about a Grand Valley Catholic Outreach housing program ” a 23-unit apartment complex designed for the chronically homeless, who have both mental and physical disabilities, and a source of income. Chambers applied and was accepted as a tenant.

Chambers, who is a great-grandmother, hardly looked like a pot dealer Thursday, with her long gray hair pulled back in a neat bun, and wearing a new pink pant suit from Catholic Outreach’s clothing bank.

Chambers addressed the crowd of about 200 gathered for the dedication of Catholic Outreach’s St. Benedict Place.

“I’ve never had anything so great happen to me as this,” Chambers said. “I thank you so much for your loving care.”

Chambers is one of 23 people, all formerly homeless, who moved in Thursday and Friday to Outreach’s St. Benedict Place, at 217-237 White Ave.

“I’m the happiest old woman that ever walked the earth today. This is the greatest community ever,” Chambers said.

Michael Carley, 56, was also moving in to his new apartment Thursday.

A Vietnam-era veteran, who served in the Coast Guard, Carley has been homeless since 1995.

“I blame it all on alcohol to be honest,” said Carley, who’s been drinking since he was 13.

Carley completed a substance abuse program through the Veterans Administration Medical Center and hasn’t had a drink since Christmas.

Now he has a full-time job and says he’s “moving up.”

Carley applied for the homeless housing after a VA nurse told him about the program. More people applied than there are units.

He received the news last week that he would be able to move into one of the units.

Applicants interviewed before a panel that included Catholic Outreach Executive Director Karen Bland, Outreach board members and staff.

“We had a lot more applications than we have places,” said Outreach Director of Transitional Housing Beverly Lampley.

“Oh, those apartments are beautiful,” Carley said. “I can’t describe how good I feel. This helps me to feel a lot more better about myself.”

As Carley showed his new home to a reporter, Rev. Blaine Scott stopped in to meet Carley and bestow a blessing on his home.

Scott is the pastor at United Methodist Church, and his congregation provided furnishings such as cookware, bedding and a television.

Several entities donated to the housing project, including the city, which provided $172,000 worth of grant money.

Shaw Construction, which donated all of their profit to the project, also gave a cash donation of $104,000 to Catholic Outreach.

Ed Chamberlin of Chamberlin Architects talked to the crowd Thursday about the housing complex’s design.

The 500-square-foot units were designed to fit into the neighborhood, Chamberlin said.

“And to be affordable and durable, and to show respect for the people living in them,” Chamberlin said. “I’m proud to be part of a community that takes care of their own like this.”

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