Longmont Nonprofit, County Agencies Assessing Voucher Program
A Longmont nonprofit that helps move people out of homelessness is working with other county agencies to improve their working relationships with an important vendor: local motels.
The Outreach United Resource Center, or OUR Center, provides vouchers for stays in motels to families struggling with homelessness who meet certain criteria, according to Edwina Salazar, the nonprofit’s executive director. The vouchers house families who need emergency shelter for three days, on average, in a local motel while they work with the OUR Center and other community resources to establish a more permanent housing plan.
Salazar said they have $350 available in vouchers for the rest of the year, and more money can be allocated to emergency shelter if necessary. The program receives new budgetary funding at the beginning of each new year.
“It’s not a program at risk financially,” Salazar said.
But the OUR Center is now reassessing how it works with local motels so that it can help mitigate any possible damages that may arise.
The OUR Center sheltered 10 families last year through the voucher program. While Salazar said there hadn’t been any damaged rooms for “some time,” one room this year was shut down for three days due to major damage.
While the nonprofit normally provides vouchers to the Longmont Department of Public Safety so police officers can hand them out to those in need, Salazar said they have halted that part of the program as they work with organizations to “strengthen” programs countywide. Officers currently can refer people to the OUR Center to receive the vouchers.
The group of organizations involved in the county’s coordinated entry system, which serves as a point of entry for homeless people and connects them with appropriate services, has a subgroup working on the issue, according to Salazar.
All organizations in Boulder County that provide basic needs services also provide emergency shelter vouchers, and the group is examining how the program could also mitigate potential future damages to motels to improve the relationship with the vendors.
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, email@example.com