Utilities Shut Off At One-Time Homeless Refuge

Express Inn Has Officially Closed

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A motel that helped hundreds avoid the streets and a stay in the homeless camp known as Tent City is now closed for business.

Utilities were cut off at the Express Inn Monday and that will force a handful of people who have yet to find a new place to live to leave. One resident said she heard about the eviction about a week ago.

"They didn't even have the courtesy to tell us directly," said Lynne Burke. "It was cold-blooded, scandalous."

The motel is in foreclosure. Burke said she thought the owners would give her and other residents more time before making the rooms unlivable.

"I'm hurting emotionally," said Burke. "I've made friends here; there are families here with kids-- it's sad."

Advocates for the homeless say this closing has brought more people to their doorstep. Joe Vazquez said even though this one-time refuge for the homeless is closing, it doesn't mean the problem has disappeared.

"We're finding more people coming that have needs," said Vazquez. He runs the Springs Rescue Mission, an organization that serves approximately 285,000 meals every year to the working poor and homeless.

Vazquez said the number one need right now is more food. He said they've begun rationing the food they give away because of dwindling supply.

Burke said her main concern right now is shelter. She has friends who have offered to give her a couch on which to crash, but she needs a place that will fill many needs.

Burke's four-year stay at the Express Inn allowed her to walk to work and keep her cat. She said a new place has to be just as affordable and at least keep her on a bus route so she can keep her job.

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