The Launchpad: Supportive Housing
Everyone needs safe, stable housing in order to reach their full potential.
Homelessness is primarily a crisis of disconnection. Once in a safe place to live, with safe people supporting them, young adults see a future with purpose and they change their trajectory. However, young people cannot find housing that is affordable in our community. If we don’t create more available housing options, we stand to lose the next generation of hard-working Colorado Springs residents. The Launchpad is a solution to the affordable housing shortage.
The Launchpad is a new 50-unit permanent supportive apartment home community for young adults as young as 18 through their mid-20s. While The PLACE does operate a youth shelter at a separate location, The Launchpad is NOT a shelter. Residents will sign a 1-year lease, with the option to renew at the end of the term.
The PLACE’s role inside the Launchpad apartment home community is to provide safe support and connection to the young adult tenants. Our agency has provided services for 23 years in Colorado Springs, including supportive housing for young adults in apartments across the city. The Launchpad brings all the resources and solutions that have been compiled over the years to a single location for easy access for the residents.
The PLACE staff are well-trained and experienced working with young people across a spectrum of programs, from street outreach services to youth shelter to housing. The supportive services available will include help for residents who wish to re-start school or gain employment skills; job placement assistance; life skills coaching around topics such as budgeting groceries and cleaning their apartment; access to counseling and other healthcare services, and a variety of other resources and supports that help young people move toward their long-term goals.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an intervention that combines affordable housing assistance with voluntary support services to address the needs of those who have experienced homelessness. The PLACE has deployed permanent supportive housing in a scattered site model for more than a decade utilizing vouchers and leasing dollars in units held by private landlords or partner nonprofits. Supportive services offered through our case managers and collaborative partners build independent living and tenancy skills, create access to healthcare, clear a pathway to education and employment opportunities, and link young adults with groups and projects that increase social and emotional wellness.
Young adults who live in the Launchpad apartments have a background of homelessness. Homelessness is not a character defect. It is a situation that can be permanently resolved with housing, safe supportive connections, and access to healthcare. The PLACE staff are well-trained and experienced working with young people across a spectrum of programs, from street outreach services to youth shelter to housing.
The difference at the Launchpad — what makes it unique and effective — is that trained, safe people are right there if someone wants support. There will be 24/7 staff coverage. From job interview classes and other life skills training to mental health counseling, parenting classes, or help with homework, The PLACE will ensure the supports necessary for a young adult’s success are accessible.
Much like other apartment home complexes, the foot traffic in and out of the building will primarily be tenants, their guests, staff members, and community resource representatives. The PLACE does not anticipate operating any services that are open to the general public from the Launchpad location.
According to the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, on average, 185 people ages 15 to 24 are experiencing homelessness in El Paso County during any given month. Young people are falling into homelessness at a rate that is outpacing the community’s ability to respond. During the first six months of 2023 (Jan-June), 183 young people were newly identified as experiencing homelessness while only 126 young people were placed into a permanent housing solution.
For all of us, social isolation can be devastating, and for many with lived experience, there are few situations as isolating as homelessness. Research tells us that social attachment and meaningful connection is restorative and that holds true for young adults living at the Launchpad. The Launchpad is intentionally designed to be a place of safety and connection.
The PLACE and our housing development partners, Cohen-Esrey Development Group along with Shopworks Architecture, are creating The Launchpad to be a place where past loss, anxiety, rejection and trauma is transformed into safety, connection, empowered healing, and hope for youth.
The Launchpad is imagined through a trauma informed design (TID) lens, integrating the principles of trauma-informed care into design with the goal of creating physical spaces that promote safety, well-being, and healing. Shopworks Architecture and the Center for Housing and Homelessness Research at the University of Denver facilitated focus groups and one on one interviews with youth and young adults from The PLACE programs.
TID acknowledges how diverse human experiences, especially experiences of trauma, impact our interactions with the world, including the built design. TID listens to the voices of the people who will utilize a building, believes individuals know what they need, and designs spaces based on what they say. Intentionally designing and maintaining healing environments leads to empowerment.
The main-floor amenity space at Launchpad has easy way-finding, and options for refuge and as well as connectivity. For example, small reading nooks are beside a spacious common area, a laundry space has windows looking into the TV lounge, and a community kitchen links to outdoor space.
Construction is scheduled to begin fall of 2023. Assuming there aren’t any major delays, the first residents will be moving in by November 2024.
A $20 million investment, the Launchpad’s innovation stems from a public-private partnership between The PLACE and Cohen-Esrey Development Group, a for-profit housing developer that holds a significant portfolio of affordable housing in addition to its market-rate projects. The Launchpad was awarded 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. This Reagan-era program provides tax credits as incentives for corporations to invest in communities. Significant investment was also provided by the State of Colorado via grants, loans and vouchers; the El Paso County Housing Trust Fund; and the City of Colorado Springs. Supportive services for tenants are provided by The PLACE and funded annually through foundations, fundraising activities, an ARPA grant from El Paso County, and the State of Colorado Division of Housing.
Each adult who lives in chronic homelessness costs approximately $37,000 annually in city emergency services according to the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care. The 50 young adults who get off the street and out of chronic homelessness because of the Launchpad brings $1,850,000 in ANNUAL SAVINGS TO LOCAL TAXPAYERS.
$1,850,000 x 40 years of the Launchpad = $74 million in local taxpayer savings.