COLORADO SPRINGS — Abandoned homes south of downtown Colorado Springs will soon be replaced with 18 tiny homes.
It’s part of a plan from Working Fusion, a nonprofit that helps people who have experienced trauma, are housing vulnerable, and don’t make a living wage.
“A lot of times, it’s things that have happened to you, create conditions in which it’s hard for you to move forward. So, we’re going to create a trauma-responsive, so that people can be supported where they are, to understand themselves better, and where it is that they’re getting stuck, and what it is that they need, and then to design services that individually tailored for people,” said Jill McCormick, Director of Clinical and Career Services, for Work Infusion.
This project will create homes for at risk young adults between 18 and 29.
“It’s specifically designed to create community and a space for people to heal from trauma, manage their finances, and then shift out of poverty and move into a living wage position. And that’s really, really difficult to do when they’re given just a housing voucher and told to go find an apartment. Well, oftentimes they don’t have the skill set or the support structure to shift out of poverty. This village is specifically designed to shift people out of poverty. We’re breaking the cycle,” said Shelley Jensen, Founder, and CEO of We Fortify.
The COVID-19 pandemic initially pushed the project back, almost pulling the plug on it all together.
“I think one of the gaps that we have in services for people that struggle with housing precarity is that there isn’t a relational support system a lot of times. You know, when you’re struggling you get disconnected from friends, family, and support. And so, we’re trying to build a community where we’re going to have relational support right there in the community, as well as mental health services, life skills, workshops,” McCormick said.
The nonprofit says the tiny homes will be placed in stages, complete with electric, sewer and water.
Those who wish to live in one of the homes will need a referral.
“If, for instance, Springs Rescue Mission has someone they think would be good for the village, they call us up or email us, and say ‘John Smith would be good for the village,’ Then we interview John Smith, we decide on whether or not we agree with that, which we probably would. And then we ask John Smith to take our community contract home and sit on it for 24 hours, just to make sure that he knows what we expect,” Jensen said.
There are also plans for several community events including weekly yoga, poetry slams, an artist alley, and more.
Overall, it’ll be a community filled with resources.
“When you give people sort of cookie-cutter services and you don’t have a relationship with them, a lot of times the services aren’t very effective. When somebody’s in fight or flight mode, they can’t take information in. So, doing skills training outside of the context of a warm relationship, a lot of times isn’t very effective,” McCormick said.