Glenwood Springs City Council releases grants to homeless assistance agencies

After hearing from Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and LIFT-UP representatives, as well as citizens standing behind the three organizations, Glenwood Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to release recommended grants to each entity.

The city’s Financial Advisory Board had recommended grants of $10,000, $9,000 and $7,000 to the three organizations, respectively. However, last month council agreed on a compromise that released only $2,500 to each organization until they could appear in person and offer assurances that the grant funding would not contribute to dangerous activities.

Thursday, the three organizations did exactly that, and councilors listened.

“Without LIFT-UP helping to fill the economic gap, it is easy to understand that communities we serve would have more health and behavioral issues, [and] would have less availability of a workforce for the greater number of jobs that pay less-than-realistic, self-sufficient wages.” LIFT-UP Assistant Director Debbie Wilde said. “LIFT-UP’s future focus is better collection and distribution of fresh and nutrient-rich foods.

“We have plenty of food in this valley; it is really about getting it to the right place at the right time,” she said.

The organizations also talked about forming a coalition, which would promote further communications between all of the stakeholders in order to combat homelessness.

“We have a program called homeless prevention,” Catholic Charities Regional Director Marian McDonough said. “Our guidelines are to take people from homelessness, so they are living in their cars or living in a tent or in shelters, and move them into housing.

“In the last, say, five years, we have moved approximately 35 to 40 folks into housing from homelessness.” McDonough added.

Councilors were all in agreement that these organizations provide outstanding services to the community and looked forward to working more with them.

“My understanding is that you are concerned with issues about people camping, living out on the hill, campfires and all of this kind of stuff,” Salvation Army representative Randy Ross stated. “Well, we are concerned with it, too, and we are interested with how you want us to address those kind of issues. We are providing money to people in the community to prevent homelessness.”

One of the major concerns has been the growing number of illegal campsites in the hills above town and the threat of wildfire, especially during this past summer’s extremely high fire danger.

Following the presentations, Councilor Shelley Kaup moved to release the grants in their entirety to all three entities, which was quickly seconded by Councilor Todd Leahy. Council unanimously voted to hand over the grants.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the three organizations for coming and speaking with us,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba said.

“I would really like to see this community as a whole, the businesses, the residents, the aid organizations, the law enforcement officers, the city, whoever needs to be involved, to come together and figure this out,” Gamba said.

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