Springs Rescue Shelter increases capacity ahead of homeless camp shutdown

Local

Tuesday morning more than 150 people that live in the city’s largest homeless camp, located east of downtown, will be evicted. The Springs Rescue Mission is hoping that those evicted will move into their 150 newly opened beds. 

The Mission said that they didn’t open these beds because of the eviction, in fact, their expansion was planned before the camp was set up, but they hope those in the camp take advantage of the shelter.

The Springs Rescue Mission had to turn 20-30 people away during a cold snap in October due to space constraints which prodded them to expand. The organization used a donated building on their campus and invested about $335,000 into the space.   

Some homeless are resistant to the idea of moving into the Mission. For a man that goes by the name “Caveman”, he doesn’t want to lose his independence. 

“You can’t set your own hours,” said Caveman. “I get up and go to bed when I want.”

Caveman, and his fellow campmates, don’t want to leave their belongings behind as the recuse mission only allows two bags of necessary personal items. 

“We’ve done everything we can to remove as many barriers as humanly possible to allow as many people in here. We don’t want them to be fighting the frigid temperatures,” said Travis Williams with the Springs Rescue Mission. “At the end of the day, their life is more important than their stuff. Ultimately we want to get people off of this campus, really better housing, a temporary solution to a really challenging problem.” 

Caveman said he was worried about his friends who didn’t get the warning of the homeless camp evictions. The cleanup starts at 7 a.m. sharp. 

About 25 city workers from police, streets, parks and neighborhood service departments expect to fill seven dumpsters during their two-day cleanup. 

“We are going to go in, PD is going to walk in and say we are here to start the cleanup and its time to move on. As the areas get vacated, we are going to be there scooping up the trash,” said Mitch Hammes City of Colorado Springs’ neighborhood services manager. “Using shovels, pitch forks, some front-end loaders, to do the job efficiently and safely.” 

A huge focus for the city is that staff members take the necessary precautions to be safe. 

“It’s not uncommon for us to come across five-gallon buckets of urine or feces. We find lots of needles in these clean ups. Our team is equipped with training to identify the hazardous materials,” said Hammes. “We have puncture resistant gloves which are lined with Kevlar, it’s not just for needles but also for glass and other sharp objects.” 

Monday afternoon the mission saw a line form outside for people to enter the 150-bed shelter. The Springs Rescue Mission now boasts a total capacity of 450 beds. 

For Caveman, he is packing up his belongings, unsure of his next destination. 

“Cause I’m not homeless, I’m land-less, remember? I can make home anywhere,” said Caveman.    

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local Stories

More Local