Comea Shelter searches for a building location while the clock is ticking on their $515,000 grant

Comea Shelter Cheyenne
Comea Shelter Cheyenne(Mia Johnson)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 3:32 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Comea Shelter received a half-million-dollar grant to fund a residential program. The shelter is now searching for a zoning-approved building to start their program.

When Comea Shelter applied to the Emergency Solutions Grant Program and received CV-2 funding, they had already found a designated building to lease; unfortunately, they were unable to secure that building. By the time they were notified that they received the funding, the building had sold to another buyer.

“There aren’t a lot of places in Cheyenne that are zoned that would allow for emergency or transitional sheltering. So even if you find an area where it is allowed, that doesn’t mean there is an available building. The money has to be completely spent by January 31st, so that only gives us nine months to test this program and see if it works to house these folks,” said Robin Bocanegra, Director of the Comea Shelter.

Ideally, Bocanegra would like to locate a building that is able to house 20 or more. The grant is specifically for a non-congregate and low barrier residence. This means that each resident would have an individual living space, along with access to kitchen and laundry. Low barrier means there are less barriers in the way of preventing someone from living there, such as sobriety or mental health. These barriers typically make it difficult for some to find shelters to stay in.

Bocanegra said starting this program would be the first step towards rehabilitation for those who need help.

“When the sobriety starts is when people no longer feel anxious or afraid about housing, they look at it and go ‘Oh, I will always have this roof over my head, at least for the next nine months, maybe I don’t need to be intoxicated every day, maybe I don’t need to get high,’ because a lot of times, that is in response to that fear and anxiety of ‘where am I going to sleep tonight, where am I going to get food?’” said Bocanegra.

Bocanegra said that providing housing would allow the residents to feel comfortable enough to ask for more help. There would be case providers, rehabilitation programs, workforce services and more available to these residents.

Comea Shelter wants to find a location soon so they can start the program. Bocanegra said if they feel like the program is working, they will be willing to look at investing in longer housing commitments.

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