Fort Collins launches new program to help provide more shelters for the homeless community

9NEWS at 6 p.m. 11/29/16.

FORT COLLINS, COLO. - In the winter, it's important to have a warm place to stay during the cold nights, especially in Colorado. For many homeless people, that's often an everyday struggle. A new program in Fort Collins, called A Safe Place to Rest, hopes to help.

Fort Collins only has two permanent shelters where people who are homeless can stay - and they fill up fast. 

"Last winter we had nights where both shelters were full and I think as a community there has been great concern," said Jackie Kozak Thiel, the city's chief sustainability officer. "We're a caring community. We want to provide shelter to our neighbors who don't have a home."

The new program creates additional shelters at community-based sites.

"The thought was how can we engage different organizations, churches and volunteers across our community to provide those additional spaces as needed throughout the winter?" said Kozak Thiel.

A similar program in Nashville, Room in the Inn, inspired this program.

"We just were so impressed with what they've been doing there for over 30 years - great success - and we thought that we could bring it back here to Fort Collins and adapt it," Kozak Thiel told Next.

She believes it will allow the city to help even more people in need who sometimes face restrictions when looking for a place to stay.

"This is also a flexible model that allows for some of the things that maybe our permanent shelters can't. So some of the organizations have been willing to take couples, people with pets - so we're really piloting this year to test our community capacity and readiness to have an ongoing program like this as they do in Nashville," she said.

People seeking shelter should still go to the city's two main shelters. If those shelters are out of space they will transport people to the community sites where they can stay.

This is the first year the city is using this program. To start, it will have three locations for people to stay.

Kozak Thiel says helping with this new program is a great way to give a lot to people in need, by doing very little.

"The thing they loved about it the most was someone to connect with, someone to talk with. I think that in terms of holiday giving, one of the best things is just connect with your fellow humans and I think that volunteers can expect is a really personal and special experience of hearing people's stories and just giving them kindness on that evening," Kozak Thiel said.

Volunteers are still needed to help with transportation and to stay overnight at the community-based shelters.
Volunteers will be trained.

You can click here to learn more about the opportunities and training.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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