CORTEZ – The Bridge Emergency Shelter in Cortez has secured a $560,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka’s affordable housing program, providing the final piece of financing needed for the $2.3 million homeless facility under construction at the corner of Park and Empire streets.
The new grant will complement an existing $1.2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, $100,000 from the Onward! Golden Dreams Foundation Fund, $80,000 from the Gates Family Foundation in Denver, $20,000 from the Tides Foundation, $15,000 from a Ballantine Family Foundation and donations from local individuals and businesses.
Laurie Knutson, executive director at The Bridge, said DOLA has also provided a $726,000 loan with 1 percent interest. She said The Bridge will probably use some of the Bank of Topeka grant to pay down part of the DOLA loan to reduce debt.
“I am quite certain that we are over the cost of the build, and we’ve also gotten a significant amount of checks from our local community and surrounding area,” Knutson said.
She said securing grants and financing was a daunting process. It wasn’t until the DOLA commitment came through in August 2017 that she realized the project would be possible. But The Bridge could not apply for the Bank of Topeka grant until June 2018. Knutson said it was kind of scary because without that grant she wasn’t sure if they could finish the building.
The Bridge learned of the Bank of Topeka grant on Oct. 29, she said.
This winter, while the new building is under construction, The Bridge will provide a temporary shelter with the help of the Grace Fellowship Church, 24 N. Chestnut St. Knutson said she hopes the new building will be complete by June or July.
The facility will provide sheltering for 26 people on the first floor, a sobering space for up to 15 people, day labor facilities and an office. The second floor will be made up of transitional apartments for about 24 people at a time. The shelter has historically operated only throughout the winter months, but Knutson said the new building will allow the transitional apartments to be open year-round.
“We kind of couldn’t go beyond that, and now we can take people who really are wanting to be off the streets and moving toward a self-sustaining life to be able to rent really affordably,” Knutson said.
But there will be responsibilities. Knutson said people living in the apartments will have to maintain their transitional homes and learn skills like budgeting. They will also have to keep up employment.
“It’s really exciting to know that those who want to get off the street will have an opportunity to do so,” Knutson said.