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New homeless wellness center under construction in Pueblo’s Bessemer neighborhood

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A new homeless wellness center is under construction in Pueblo's Bessemer neighborhood on the corner of Northern Ave. and Abriendo.

The Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association is expanding into another building in hopes of having a bigger space to help more people. The organization said it has helped around 5,000 people since it opened six years ago.

However, the syringe service program (SSP) will remain at the other location on Routte Ave.

The CEO of the non-profit, Jude Solano, said she has always wanted to expand since she started the organization in 2017.

Solano said she use to drive by the building every day hoping she would one day be able to purchase it. Finally, almost two years ago, an opportunity came up for the organization to buy the property.

The building will be called the Charles and Helen Solano Bessemer Wellness Center. It will have an abundance of resources from medical supplies, showers, lockers, food, and other information available to help people get off the streets.

"I do collaborate with the treatment community in Pueblo and we have sent thousands of people in their direction," said Solano.

Solano is also partnering with dozens of other organizations to help with the homelessness problem in Pueblo. One of the organizations is the nonprofit People Helping People and Faith in the Pueblo Community.

Paul Montoya started that organization in the last couple of months, but he's been helping those struggling with homelessness for over a decade. Montoya said he's helped those living down at the river bottom of Fountain Creek for nearly 13 years.

He believes opening up a non-profit gives him the ability to help more people at a larger scale and partner with more organizations.

"When I first started doing this, there was only maybe 10% or 15% of the people living down that were doing drugs, mainly marijuana, smoking weed. But now, as of 2023, 90% of them are on drugs right now. And it's devastating for me to see that," said Montoya.

Montoya said he's going to continue to go down to Fountain Creek and try to bring them to this new Wellness Center once it opens in hopes of helping some get off drugs.

Solano is asking the city of Pueblo for nearly $1 million to help with the construction costs of the wellness center. The first reading of this proposal will be voted on June 12, 2023.

This project is expected to be finished in 2024.

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Barbara Fox

Barbara is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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