La Puente receives HUD funds
By Owen Woods | email@example.com
LA Puente, with its street outreach efforts, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless with its breadth of services, received a step up in the form of $801,249 on Wednesday morning. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness Award.
Dominique Jackson, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, presented the award to La Puente in the form of a big check during a ceremony at Alamosa’s Milagros Coffee House.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Jackson. “It takes talking to each other. It takes breaking down barriers. It takes community. This is what you have and that is special. Know that,” Jackson said.
“For the important and compassionate work that La Puente does for some of the wonderful people here in the San Luis Valley is certainly hard to ignore.”
Deanne Witzke, vice president of community services for Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, spoke on the partnership with HUD and La Puente.
Witzke said the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Balance of State “was the only continuum of care to receive these funds.” The Colorado Balance of State Continuum of Care was established in 2000 to help rural communities apply for federal HUD funding.
Colorado is one of 30 states to receive these funds, Witzke said. Of the 54 counties the Coalition for the Homeless serves as the Balance of State Continuum of Care, La Puente is the only provider to receive funding from this award.
“That’s why we’re here,” Witzke said. “We’re here to celebrate La Puente. It takes an invested group of people to get a check like this. It’s not something that was without hard work or a lot of intellect and wisdom behind the programs that are offered at La Puente. That investment personifies itself in a lot of ways here.”
These funds will help fund expanded outreach street services. “I think of street outreach as preventative care, as it is in healthcare,” she said.
Wilson Hamilton, La Puente’s development director, said a continuum of care is “a governing body for a region of services focusing on housing and homelessness.” The continuum of care that La Puente falls under covers most of the rural areas in Colorado.
This award will be split between La Puente and CCH. La Puente will receive $455,000; CCH will get the rest, about $346,000. CCH will use the funds to cover administrative costs, infrastructure costs, and the cost of administering services.
Brett Phillips is La Puente’s director of street outreach. His goal: “Reach people who are staying outside, who meet the criteria of literal homelessness, but are not able to access the shelter or are not accessing the shelter for whatever reason.”
He said the funds will help direct-line services, add a case manager and help the team with data collection.
Phillips said that the street outreach team provides things like general supplies, blankets, hats, jackets, gloves, food, while also providing referrals to other services and agencies around the Valley. He said his team also helps clients navigate the process of getting housing vouchers.
A portion of the work is helping with case management by keeping tabs on homeless individuals, such as where they’re staying and how they’re doing.
“A lot of them have a lot of reservations about walking into the door of another organization, just because they feel it’s institutional and they’re not a fan of that feel,” Phillips said. “So we go meet them where they’re at and then reach out to them, talk to them, build that relationship and help them form a plan on their own terms.”