New homelessness service focusing on families gets $400,000 backing from Aurora City Council

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Former Excelsior school, soon to be a program to aid families experiencing homelessness. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

AURORA | A new homelessness program to be based in Aurora got a nod of approval via funding from city lawmakers this week. 

Family Tree, which is leading the project called GOALS, is set to receive $400,000 from the marijuana tax revenue homelessness fund for capital improvements of the space, located at the former Excelsior Youth Campus at 15001 East Oxford Ave.

The city council decided unanimously on providing the one-time sum at the group’s study session Monday. Many said they believed the program, which will be focused on ending generational poverty, is a good idea. 

The program is designed as a two-generation approach, according to the Family Tree CEO, Scott Shields. Many homeless programs focus solely on getting adults back on their feet or just on helping children, which can sometimes require very different services. Family Tree’s program is one that focuses on an array of challenges a family might meet when they’re experiencing homelessness.

The Center for Policy Research will also be involved to study the impacts of the overall effectiveness of the program.

Money being allocated would allow the campus to add bathroom facilities, enhance privacy for families, construct an interior stairwell and other improvements. GOALS will have the ability to help 15 families at a time on the campus. That amounts to about 40 people, Shields said.

Councilman Bob Roth, who represents the neighborhoods around the campus, said he feels that residents who were first wary of the program are now mostly relieved after a community meeting that highlighted the program’s focus on families that want a way out of homelessness and will be provided with a bevy of resources.

Council members, acting as the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority, also approved a recommendation to fund an affordable housing program in the Fitzsimons urban renewal area.

The move adds $1 million to the existing $1.1 million set aside for affordable housing efforts, but this money will have to be used in that specific boundary near the Fitzsimons campus.