SOCIAL JUSTICE: Housing Solutions Summit set

homeless bridge

By Carrie Baatz

The City Council has heard loud and clear from hundreds of activists that criminalizing people is not a solution to poverty or homelessness.

The arrest of Trig Bundgaard and three others for violating the Pedestrian Access Act in April was meant to highlight that we need solutions to address a serious root problem in our community: a lack of housing.

The PPJPC and People’s Access to Homes (PATH) are working together on a movement toward housing justice. A Housing Solutions Summit set for Sept. 12 at UCCS hopes to bring developers, funders and other housing players together to address housing needs in Colorado Springs.

Organizers want to start an ongoing coalition that works to generate new and innovative affordable housing as well as advocating for policies that support housing for all.

On April 9, it became illegal to sit or lie in certain places in Downtown and Old Colorado City.

After more than five months of public process, the City Council passed the rebranded Pedestrian Access Act, formerly called the No Sit/No Lie ordinance. The law passed despite voiced opposition by hundreds of community members.

Many of these community members have organized to continue advocating for the right to engage in acts of survival in public places. The Coalition for Compassion and Action (CCA) emerged in February with the goals of repealing the Pedestrian Access Act, the Camping Ban and other ordinances that criminalize people in poverty or homelessness.

The CCA’s moderator, Trig Bundgaard, characterizes the new coalition as “an inevitable reaction to our apathy as a city to the plight of our fellow citizens who are experiencing homelessness due overwhelmingly online casino real money to trauma, abuse, addition or mental illness. It is an appeal to the hearts of every citizen of Colorado Springs to care for our brother and sister using proven groundbreaking solutions that can end homelessness in our city.”

But civil disobedience and legal action are only scratching the surface. The PPJPC is active in community efforts to create real solutions to homelessness. The September Housing Solutions Summit will be a catalyst for affordable and innovative housing development.

By convening developers, designers, property managers and other housing players, the summit organizers intend to establish a task force dedicated to championing long-term housing solutions that meet community need.

PATH is spearheading a vision that is shared by many: a “Yellow Brick Community” for people experiencing homelessness. The Yellow Brick Community will be a sustainable community where people in need can find safe and stable homes, dignity and independent living.

A community center with amenities, personal storage spaces, a community-run garden or farm and opportunities for residents to establish livelihoods will be included.

For more information on housing issues or to join the summit organizing team, email the PPJPC at econjustice@ppjpc.org.

Carrie Baatz is a member of the PPJPC board of directors and works as a community organizer for The Independence Center.

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