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Shelter vs. homes?

To the Editor:

I live in the neighborhood two blocks from the proposed shelter ("Shelter plan could destroy neighborhood," Dec. 23).

I, too, want to help the homeless. I've lived a few blocks from the existing shelter for 20 years. Far from being a problem, it helps me to appreciate what I have, and not forget that many others are not so blessed. If the mega-homeless complex will truly help, I'm all for it. Yes, even in my backyard.

But the neighborhood -- the decent low-income neighborhood nearest the shelter -- is being treated horribly and this needs to change.

Almost daily we all hear that we need more decent low-income areas ("the reasons most frequently cited ... for homelessness ... were ... high housing costs" and [the homeless] "are priced out of shrinking markets for affordable housing" (G, Dec. 21). And yet, much of this neighborhood will be destroyed if the proposal goes through as planned. First, by placing the Children's Center on the east side of Conejos, six lots, including four homes, will be destroyed. Then, within the next 3 to 4 years, El Pomar is considering destroying all the homes on both sides of Baltic, buying them so Colorado Springs Utilities can build a railroad spur through this land. This will put trains directly behind another ten or so homes.

Will those people stay? With half the neighborhood gone, a train right behind them and the shelter? No. There goes the neighborhood.

All of this area is filled with decent, low-income homes. People are being offered 110 percent of appraised value. This may mean 50- perhaps 65-thousand dollars. What can they get for $65,000? If their mortgage was paid, or if their payment was two to three or even four hundred a month, what will their new payment be? There is a good chance these people will be forced to live beyond their means -- which is how homelessness happens. In other words, it's quite possible that we will be creating more homelessness by trying to help.

This can be avoided. We can build everything and keep this neighborhood.

Put the children's center on the west side of Conejos. Destroy no homes. Then, hold the Utilities to their word. Colorado Springs Utilities Director Phil Tollefson said "the rail spur is not a condition of getting the homeless complex built. ... We'd love to be a good corporate citizen and support the homeless shelter and we will" (G, Dec. 15). If he meant that, there is no problem. Do not destroy the homes for a rail spur.

Finally, Debbie Mitguard of the Red Cross (who I know has a great heart) said "organizers are trying to work with neighbors." Wouldn't that mean talking to people? None of the neighbors have been contacted. Most of these people still don't understand what is happening. Many can't afford a daily paper.

Debbie also said "our hope is we can work as partners and not adversaries." Destroying people's homes, especially for a railroad spur (not to help the homeless), destroying a neighborhood and knocking down homes can't create partners.

Find a way to do good without evil. In this case it is possible. We recently lost the Lowell area as low-income housing. We lost the homes from Bijou to Uintah for the freeway. We can't afford to lose another. Poor people need homes. It's one solution to homelessness. Do not destroy this decent low-income neighborhood in this process. Build the shelter and keep the neighborhood.

-- Lyn Akers
Colorado Springs

Community building requires mutual participation

To the Editor:

I would like to take this time to applaud the members of the El Pomar Foundation, the Red Cross and others who represent the homeless shelter committee for being sensitive to the voices of those who would have been directly affected by the relocation of the homeless shelter to the southeast of downtown. I especially applaud the Hillside residents for having the courage to collectively lift their voices and to speak out openly without compromise to a system that in past times has elected to do as it pleased.

It is necessary to look back at the strain, hard feelings and negative attitudes that this issue has placed upon relationships, in order to not make these offensive mistakes again.

Now, experience without a lesson learned is simply an experience. What we have learned is that some of the most basic principles of community organizing have been ignored and violated. Allow me to mention just a few of these principles: 1) You must be invited into a community, it doesn't matter, even if you are giving away gold bricks, the people in and of that community must welcome you in. If you are not welcomed, you are considered an intruder, which is a violation of community law or norms. So often an outsider's visit is temporary, but the effects are permanent. People in the neighborhood realize and understand that. 2) There are three ways of doing things: a) to people; b) for people; c) with people. Doing with people is the preferred style. It promotes and assures peaceful, positive and long-lasting results. When people repeatedly have things done to them, and for them it perpetuates oppression and dependency. Let us not forget an important proverb: "Nothing to us, nothing for us, without us." 3) The principle of moccasin reversal. In other words, what if the shoe is on the other foot, how would you respond or feel if the issue you are imposing is imposed on you?

In order for us to grow as a community, we must first grow as individuals. We must first become less systemic and institutional, instead more human and caring. If Colorado Springs and El Paso County is to become the community we say we desire it to be, then we must move beyond simply quoting the creed and give life to it by exercising deed.

In our planning and decision making, we must remember that how and what we do now will affect the future. What is done now will speak to whether or not we were a community that valued collaboration or individualism, inclusion or exclusion, a community of people who were united or divided.

-- Rev. Promise Y. Lee, Senior Pastor
Relevant Word Ministries
Colorado Springs

Former members' rebuttal

To the Editor:

In the article titled "Hog Heaven" in the Nov. 11, 1999, issue of the Independent, we, Joe Anghioiu and Jim and Diane Eubanks, as former members of Soldiers for Jesus MC in Colorado Springs, were extremely disappointed by at least four statements made by the present membership of SFJ.

First statement: One member's comment about putting his trike before his wife.

Former members' rebuttal: We believe the Christian should put Jesus Christ first, second would be one's family. The trike should be considered a tool used for ministry purposes.

Second statement: One member's remark about declining to join the Christian Motorcycle Association simply because its leader rides a Honda instead of a Harley.

Former members' rebuttal: The member that made this remark rides a Volkswagen trike. We believe that it doesn't matter what a person rides. The idea is to be "in the wind."

Third statement: A member stated that he nixed joining Christian Cruisers because its leadership is female.

Former members' rebuttal: We do not condone this statement or the attitude that supports it.

Fourth statement: The author of the article's use of the term "chain smoking bikers."

Former members' rebuttal: Not all members have the habit of cigarette smoking. We former members either have smoked or were delivered from this bondage through the healing power of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We, Jim and Diane Eubanks and Joe Anghioiu, former members of Soldiers for Jesus in Colorado Springs opposed this article before it was written, just because of a possibility of opinions like this being put into print.

Use of our presence in any form in the article "Hog Heaven" was without our permission. We do not support these particular opinions and prejudices of Alberto Leopizzi and Dave (Eggo) Adamson.

-- Joe Anghioiu and Jim and Diane Eubanks
Colorado Springs

Something to celebrate

To the Editor:

While much of the focus from the 1999 election was on transportation issues, several communities across the state also celebrated the passage of local open-space measures.

Unlike many other tax or bond issues, open-space-related proposals are enjoying unprecedented success at the ballot box. This year, Adams County voters passed a 1/5 percent sales tax -- $5 million per year -- for natural lands, wildlife habitat and wetlands protection by a resounding 59 percent. Boulder, Larimer, Summit and Pitkin County residents gave the green light to extend their current open space programs. Nederland, Frederick, Brighton and Lafayette also added to their open-space coffers. The only unsuccessful open-space proposals were in Rico and Erie, the latter of which failed to pass by only three votes.

To date, 28 Colorado cities, towns and counties have some type of dedicated revenue source that includes open-space protection. The adoption of these measures underscores the strong and growing concern Coloradans have about their quality of life and the character of their communities. They strongly support the preservation of unique and critical open spaces in and around their neighborhoods.

For Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the trust fund that directs a portion of the lottery proceeds to open space, parks, wildlife and trails, the success of local open-space initiatives is further confirmation that GOCO's mission is important to people throughout the state. It also means that more city and county dollars will help GOCO funds go even further, as local open-space funding sources for matching GOCO grants. With recent demand for GOCO open-space grants outpacing available funds by more than four-to-one, GOCO simply cannot keep up with the growing needs of Colorado communities. This problem is only made worse by rapidly escalating real estate prices.

The success of open-space measures also supports the GOCO Board's decision earlier this year to focus over two-thirds of its funding on land, water and wildlife protection. With the help of local communities, nonprofit organizations, State Parks, and the Division of Wildlife, GOCO aims to protect important river corridors and critical wildlife habitats, acquire land for future parks and recreation areas, provide community buffers and preserve critical agricultural land. GOCO could not accomplish these ambitious goals without strong partnerships with communities all over Colorado.

Every day, we witness the delicate balancing act between the rapid growth in our state and maintaining the quality of life that makes Colorado a great place to live. Conserving important open spaces is certainly a crucial element in maintaining that balance. Dedicated revenue sources provide communities a unique opportunity to invest in the lands that contribute to Colorado's quality of life. That gives everyone something to celebrate.

-- Will Shafroth, Executive Director
Jim Kelley, Board Chair
Great Outdoors Colorado

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