Local group pushes for transitional housing for homeless through winter | CraigDailyPress.com

Local group pushes for transitional housing for homeless through winter

The vacant CAPS building could be put to use as emergency transitional housing for the homeless this winter.
Joshua Carney / Craig Press

The old CAPS building might help alleviate homelessness in Craig this winter — if the community receives a grant.

Locals in Craig and Moffat County are pushing for the city to apply for an Emergency Solutions Grant through the Department of Local Affairs to fund a emergency transitional housing unit for homeless throughout the winter.

Hannah Wood has spearheaded the movement and recently presented her idea to use the old CAPS building to Joint Services. Wood recently secured a letter of intent for a lease with Geo Group — which previously owned and operated the building located at 445 Ranney Street — and is hoping for the city to secure a grant for an undisclosed amount to help run the transitional housing unit for the winter, getting the homeless off the streets and into warm shelter for the season.

“I think we’ve all seen the complaints regarding the homeless population in this county; it’s a problem,” Wood said. “I’ve seen people say that we should round them up and ship them out of town and that really bothers me. They’re not invisible, and I don’t want them to remain invisible. We want to show that our community cares about them.

“This is home for people,” Wood added. “If I became homeless I wouldn’t want to leave my hometown, I would want to reach out to people who cared about me and get some help. That’s what we’re hoping to provide.”

The amount of the proposed grant from DOLA is unknown at this time. Wood said that it’s up to the city to request a certain amount of funds. She added that rent for the GEO Group when CAPS was still around was roughly $2,500 a month, or $30,000 a year. As of now, the CAPS building remains move-in ready, as it is still fully furnished with towels, dishware, and more.

“The Budget Center is stretched thin, Love Inc. is stretched thin, too, and during hunting season rooms are limited,” Wood said. “We want to get this done as soon as possible. Hopefully if we can get this done it will reduce people on the streets and keep the break-ins and squatting incidents to a minimum.”

According to Moffat County United Way Executive Director Kristen Vigil, the City of Craig recently gave the nonprofit organization $37,000 to help prevent and address homelessness in Moffat County. That money won’t help fund the potential transitional housing entirely, but could help United Way place a homeless person in the housing unit month to month.

“Ideally, this allows us to develop a long-term transitional housing program in Moffat County, helping not only the homeless, but those coming from unstable environments, women and children, transitioning out of the legal system, people with addictions, etc.,” Vigil said.

“Long term, that’s the goal is to get some legit transitional housing going here,” Wood added. “All that we can really set up right now is emergency transitional housing for winter and that’s it.”

Wood will present to City Council on Tuesday night in hopes of councilors approving a grant application to DOLA for an unknown amount.

“We need emergency shelter, and I want the city to be the grant recipient,” Wood added. “I want us to lease the old CAPS building. I have a framework for a business plan, but I don’t have a formal study that shows how many people experiencing homelessness we currently have, or what the financial return will be for the city. I want to figure out what I city would need from me moving forward.”

The cost of the grant would cover rent, food, the Homeless Management Information System software and more.

“We don’t know if you have to purchase the software or just operate it,” Wood said. “We would love to reach out to an existing location to see if we can subcontract with them.”

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