Number Of Homeless Families Increasing | Colorado | Colorado Springs Gazette
At 42 years old, with a storage shed full of furniture, a car, and some money in her pocket, Andrea Garrett found herself homeless.
Garrett, who lost her job in May, got lucky this January, and with a little publicity and help from the community, she and her family of three now have a temporary home. (Read more about the Garrett family.)
Homeless advocates say more and more families are in Garrett’s shoes, and even in a community known for its generosity, there’s not enough help to go around.
For years Teresa McLaughlin, the director of Pikes Peak Homeless Outreach focused her efforts on the homeless camps of Colorado Springs, where single men and women tried to eke out an existence by living in tents. Now, joining this group of homeless people are those like Garrett, who have suddenly lost their jobs, who can’t pay their utilities bills and who have lost their homes.
“White collar people are now starting to get into that situation,” McLaughlin said. “You see a few upper middle as well as lower class … It’s everybody, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
The newly homeless family wind up on the streets unfamiliar with programs that can help them get a roof over their heads. The winter months are the busiest for organizations like McLaughlin’s, when the cold drives families to shelters in lieu of car-camping.
For a family used to their own home, shelter life makes for a difficult adjustment, McLaughlin said. Her organization works with The Aztec Motel to provide transitional housing to those who don’t make it into the shelter.
The winter holiday season in December is the best and worst time for non-profit service organizations and their beneficiaries, said Michelle Milner, the director of United Way’s 211 support hotline.