Sallie Clark Mayor | Colorado Springs, CO

Sallie Clark's BlogThe Mayor's Role: Homelessness and Community Solutions

"As our city grows, we are facing another complex issue, homelessness. We are not alone in this, cities around the country are experiencing the same challenge. As our Mayor, I will do my best to strike the perfect balance between being tough, compassionate and innovative at the same time."
Sallie Clark is a candidate for Colorado Springs Mayor and a longtime community leader
Sallie Clark
Candidate for Mayor of Colorado Springs
The issue of homelessness continues to be a concern of residents in Colorado Springs. Sallie Clark as candidate for mayor will work to address this community issue with collaboration and regional solutions.
Hwy 24/21st St along Fountain Creek - Photo: Sallie Clark

The Mayor’s Role: Homelessness and Community Solutions

“…let’s just not talk about it, let’s get it done.”
-Sallie Clark

Not a day goes by without crime, homelessness, affordable housing, and utility rate hikes making the headlines — I will tackle these problems, with your help, together. 

These issues concern all of us, and that’s why I am running for Mayor of Colorado Springs. We live in a beautiful place, yet our city is at an important crossroads. We’re no longer a small town and growing requires that we come to terms with changes. We must look for new ways to plan for the future.

As our city grows, we are facing increased homelessness and it’s impacting our community every day — in our neighborhoods, businesses, parks and trails.  We’re not alone in this, cities around the country are experiencing the same challenge. As our Mayor, I will do my best to strike the perfect balance between being tough, compassionate and innovative, all at the same time. Each and every day, nonprofits and faith-based organizations are stepping forward to help, but they cannot do it alone. The Mayor has to be the catalyst and convener to make this work, for discussions that broaden the safety net, identify gaps in the system and provide regional solutions. 

The causes of homelessness are complex and oftentimes multigenerational. These include poverty; chronic health problems; substance abuse and mental health (behavioral health); domestic violence; legal issues; low paying jobs; lack of educational opportunities, job training, and employment; lack of affordable housing; and coordination of shelter, transitional, and permanent housing.

Homelessness continues to be a concern for Colorado Springs and cities across the nation.
Nevada Avenue and I25 – Photo: Sallie Clark

A recent editorial board article “Let’s uplift Colorado’s homeless” from The Colorado Springs Gazette, Dec 21, 2022, stated, “…To truly reinvent our approach to solving — not subsidizing — homelessness, some basic guardrails must be built in. Most notably: Pursue such programs as regional solutions that tie together resources and enforcement in multiple cities and counties — so as not to simply redistribute the homeless population…”

As our Mayor, I will bring together a diverse group of allies to collaborate and tackle the root causes of homelessness. I will engage leaders from healthcare; behavioral health; human services; criminal justice; employment; education; job training; shelters; transitional, permanent, and affordable housing; anti-domestic violence advocates; veteran and military organizations; the faith-based community; neighborhoods; local businesses; people in recovery; and regional, state, and national experts. We will quickly learn about successes in our city and review successes of other cities. We will replicate accomplishments and learn from mistakes. We will adopt strategies that are proven to be the most effective. We will innovate, tailoring solutions to each individual person, not a “one size fits all” approach.

According to the Colorado Springs Business Journal “Let’s consider the true cost of homelessness” from an updated article Mar. 4, 2021, “Locally, the city of Colorado Springs calculates the cost to serve one person experiencing chronic homelessness as $57,760 per year. That includes medical treatment, police intervention, incarceration, and emergency response. Costs drop dramatically, up to as much as $30,000 annually, when someone moves into supportive housing – The Initiative to End Homelessness in Colorado Springs, 2014.”

The city does not control all the resources, as funding is spread across many agencies. This makes a team approach to homelessness even more important. As our Mayor, I will review all grants and contracts the city oversees to make sure we are good stewards of public funds and are meeting or exceeding all performance outcomes. We will collaborate to bring in additional resources through grants as needed.

I’m ready to meet this challenge and have deep experience bringing people together to solve complex problems. As a county commissioner, I spearheaded a collaborative team with city councilmembers, engaging the hospitals to support a community detox model that provided a place for those who might have otherwise been on the streets. And, when child fatalities had reached an all-time high, then District Attorney Dan May and I started the “Not One More Child Initiative” to educate young parents and protect our littlest citizens. We brought together health professionals and hospital systems, the military, numerous nonprofits such as CASA and TESSA, child advocates, community groups, human service agencies, law enforcement and first responders, and other interested agencies and individuals. Our regional collaborative effort was even emulated and adopted by other Colorado counties and was recognized by the State of Colorado as a best practices model.

Other cities throughout the U.S. are also struggling to find answers. As an example, San Antonio, Texas, has surpassed goals to get hundreds of homeless off the street. In a recent report from the local TV station, KSAT News, “Millions of families are one paycheck away, one event, from financial catastrophe. That was on clear display during the pandemic, which is why we’ve adopted a comprehensive approach here,” said Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio mayor.” Other successful examples exist in cities like Salt Lake City (UT), San Diego (CA), Providence (RI) and Houston (TX). Although these and other cities and counties have addressed and made strides in reducing  homelessness, it’s also clear that there is no one perfect program. My goal is to find solutions that are specific to our city, Colorado Springs, and to create a regional and comprehensive model that addresses our local and unique challenges. Like I did with the “Not One More Child Initiative” as a county commissioner, let’s not just talk about it, let’s get it done.

As the only candidate for mayor who has worked at the city, county, state, and national level of government, I’m uniquely qualified and have a deep understanding of complex community issues. As a neighborhood leader and a longtime local business owner, I know first-hand, the impacts of homelessness on our neighborhoods, public safety and our economy.

We have a beautiful city and a positive future. Check out my website content to learn more about my accomplishments and experience, contact me, and sign up to receive my enewsletter and consider volunteering to help. I look forward to engaging with you and being our next Mayor of Colorado Springs. Together, let’s get things done.

My goal is that all of us thrive and meet the challenges ahead!

Sallie Clark for Colorado Springs Mayor 

The issue of homelessness continues to be a concern of residents in Colorado Springs. Sallie Clark as candidate for mayor will work to address this community issue with collaboration and regional solutions.
Tejon Street south of Downtown Colorado Springs - Photo: Sallie Clark

* Sallie Clark is seeking the position of Mayor of Colorado Springs currently held by retiring Mayor John Suthers.