Grand Junction, Colo. – Since the pandemic, the housing crisis in the U.S. has worsened significantly; with Mesa County feeling the impact. Homelessness is projected to rise 40-45 percent in the upcoming months according to Columbia University.
The Joseph Center, located in Grand Junction, says they see people from all walks of life come in their doors; and more than ever, women are seeking their help.
A new program, called the ‘Golden Girls,’ was created after workers at the center saw a massive spike in the number of women 65 and older seeking shelter, and it has been changing lives ever since,
“I’ve gone far, I’m going to doctors now and everything and getting my health together and I’m really not homeless anymore,” says Golden Girl Cynthia Velardez.
“I was almost hysterical because I thought no one could help me, and they’ve helped me out tremendously; they’re great ,” recounts previously homeless Lianne Schanz, who found a home with the Joseph Center.
The women in the program are given 6 months to stay at the shelter and get back on their feet,
“Without the safety of a home, women are twice as susceptible as men to violence and other dangers,” says KREX5’s Reilly Spence.
Along with violence, homeless women lack access to menstruation products and prenatal care. Not to mention widely increased rates of mental illness,
“If you’re homeless and you don’t have a dime to your name, and you’re worried about how you’re going to feed yourself, and in this heat where you’re going to sleep at night and be safe; one of the last things you’re thinking about is feminine products,” says the head of the Golden Girls program, Nicki Tarr.
The Joseph Center offers a variety of programs for not only women, but anyone in need of help; including parent advocacy and financial planning services,
“The Joseph Center is basically designed to be a bridge for individuals from where they’re at, to the next place they need to be,” says Joseph Center’s Mona Highline.
The shelter says everyone needs help at some point in their lives, and their doors are always open to anyone who needs it.