Tag Archives: affordable and accessible housing

Press Release: People’s Access to Homes Emerges from The Independence Center Community Organizing Efforts

People's Access to Homes logoCOLORADO SPRINGS, CO, November 23, 2015 – The Independence Center housing study from December 2014 – April 2015 engendered a new community organizing group in Colorado Springs called People’s Access to Homes (PATH), which continues to coalesce while fighting the proposed Sit/Lie Ordinance. Affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities is a key issue of The Independence Center and Carrie Baatz, Community Organizer at The Independence Center (The IC) has been studying it and organizing around it for nearly a year.

“A home is that bedrock of your existence, where you rest each day at the end of the day, where you recover from illnesses, where you retreat and spend time with those close to you,” Carrie Baatz, Community Organizer at The Independence Center (The IC), says.

Baatz undertook the issue of housing from the community organizing office of The IC. Facilitating focus groups with other organizations such as Tessa, Springs Rescue Mission and Women’s Resource Agency; interviews and community forums, Baatz developed a formal report called Affordable and Accessible Housing Needs and Barriers: Community Voices in the Pikes Peak Region, which can be found online at http://bit.ly/theic2015housingreport.

In addition to the formal report, The Independence Center facilitated the emergence of a dedicated group of individuals to have a voice in the discussion and a place at the table to help drive change in the Pikes Peak region. These individuals joined together and created a community organizing group with the name People’s Access to Homes (PATH). Many of these people have personal, powerful stories of barriers to accessible, affordable housing. Many have been influenced by such stories.

Baatz says, “Being a part of this process at The Independence Center out of which PATH emerged has been life changing for me.” As for the group members, who essentially have chosen themselves, she tells, “I look up to them. They are all so articulate and talented and self-aware.”

Perhaps a mark of a true community movement, most PATH members happen not to be consumers of The Independence Center. PATH is still coalescing as a force, working on finding its common goal and long term vision. Broadly, this includes creating more opportunities for housing that meet people’s needs. The idea that everyone has a right to a space they call home is what motivates the members of PATH. PATH sees housing not as a problem, but through a positive lens: as a long term solution to many problems, one of which is the city’s homelessness problem.

While focused on creating long term solutions, PATH’s gauges its success by short term goals. The immediate goal of PATH is to see the Colorado Springs Sit/Lie City Ordinance fail. PATH is opposing this ordinance because it unfairly targets people who are homeless, and it would distract resources and energy from better solutions (namely, developing affordable and accessible housing). Making sitting illegal in certain places would negatively impact people with disabilities, and in the current draft, a person would have to provide “confirmation” of a medical disability as an affirmative defense.

During recent City Council meetings, various members of PATH showed up. Michael Hazard (PATH member with a background in law) shared on November 11, 2015 about the discrimination against the homeless in the Sit/Lie Ordinance and asked City Council to postpone the vote until a suitable alternative to Sit/Lie can be found. Kellee O’Brian (PATH member) spoke about her experience of being homeless. Baatz spoke about the shortage of over 20,000 units in Colorado Springs and offered solutions such as requesting the City Council to look at the Housing Trust Fund Project.

It remains to be seen what will happen with Sit/Lie Ordinance, but The Independence Center is engaging local government, advocating on behalf of people with disabilities. Answering the invitation for the community to join in advocacy, PATH has emerged as an active, engaged force campaigning for more affordable, accessible housing.

 

About The Independence Center

The Independence Center is a local nonprofit organization that provides traditional and self-directed home health care, independent living, and advocacy services for people with disabilities.  These services range from providing peer support, skills classes, and employment assistance to individual and systems advocacy. The IC’s mission is to work with people with disabilities, their families, and the community to create independence so all may thrive.

Affordable and Accessible Housing

"Affordable and Accessible Housing Needs and Barriers" report cover image

The IC recognizes that there is an extreme and drastic need for affordable and accessible housing in our community. With rising housing costs and income levels dropping below median wages, more and more people face challenges finding adequate housing that fits budget levels. For people with disabilities, location becomes a prominent factor, due to the requirement of close city transportation. When combining these needs with safety concerns, elderly persons’ needs and health concerns, community resources delays, and other obstacles, the barriers often cause homelessness and other significant issues such as depression and hopelessness, which in turn stifle independent living.

The Independence Center brought together many people facing these issues through focus groups, interviews, and community forums in order to highlight the vast needs that are causing strain in the community. Carrie Baatz, Community Advocacy Coordinator for The Independence Center, pulled these concerns, stories, and obstacles together to build a report detailing each issue, need, barrier, and recommendation to present to Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials, as well as to promote awareness and spark conversation and action. ~ NS

Cover

Affordable and Accessible Housing Report

Recommendations

  • Public education and advocacy
  • A sustained effort to build capacity for affordable and accessible housing
  • Building relationships and trust between service providers and housing providers
  •  Integrate affordable housing units with market-rate housing
  • Increase staff and availability of Code Enforcement Officers
  •  More personnel to provide education and enforcement regarding Fair Housing laws
  • Centralized method of tracking available affordable and accessible housing units
  • A greater spectrum of resources to adequately fulfill the needs in the Pikes Peak Region

Get Involved

People’s Access to Homes (PATH)believes everyone has a right to a space they call home. They are advocating for housing rights and increased affordable and accessible housing in the Pikes Peak Region. Meetings are at The Independence Center every Thursday from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.

 

Click here to read the report in it’s entirety.  Affordable_and_Accesible_Housing_Report Aug 2015

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