Murphy Center provides resources to end homelessness in Fort Collins

Charlotte Lang

On Conifer Street in Fort Collins, a building known as the Murphy Center stands in rebellion against the growing issue of homelessness in the Fort Collins community.

A mural painted on a wall depicting people being helped
The mural painted on the wall at the Murphy Center is representative of the work they do as a resource center for homeless and those at risk of being homeless. They coordinate activities to help people in many different areas, from providing them with tools to find and hold steady employment to basic supplies for day to day life. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

The Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope — more commonly known as the Murphy Center — continues the vision of Sister Mary Alice Murphy, who spent decades working for the homeles by providing resources.

Ad

Since its inception in February 2009, the Murphy Center works to continue this vision.

Executive Director of Homeless Gear David Rout said the establishment is a one-stop shop resource center for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Rout’s agency Homeless Gear, while originally a partner of the center, has worked with the Murphy Center as a managing company since December 2016. The new leadership has seen many changes in the center, such as a reduced budget and increased collaborative efforts with outside agencies.

“(In 2016) service providers and foundations got together and really restructured the … organizational infrastructure … with a goal to make it more collaborative,” Rout said. “There’s more of a shared leadership among different agencies. It’s the collective responsibility of these agencies to provide services.”

By emphasizing this responsibility, the costs of the Murphy Center have gone down and the leadership of agencies in the center has gone up.

The center is run with the input of a four-agency council. These agencies include Homeless Gear, Summitstone Health Partners, Neighbor to Neighbor and Catholic Charities. They collaborate on the long-term vision and programming of the Murphy Center.

Along with these agencies, the Murphy Center hosts organizations such as the Colorado State University School of Social Work, Prevent Unwanted Pets and the Northern Colorado AIDS Project.

Other direct services offered are showers, mail and bike repair. Guests are also offered the Career Closet, a resource which equips job-seekers with the clothing and tools required for a job or interview.

These services and more are available to any guest of the Murphy Center struggling with housing, employment, or mental health, but the greatest focus is on housing.

“Part of the purpose of the (Housing First Initiative) is to give us a sense of how we as a community are doing when it comes to moving the needle on the issue of homelessness,” Rout said in regards to a program launched by Homeless Gear in partnership with Homeward 2020 and the City of Fort Collins. “Ultimately, the goal of the Murphy Center is to solve homelessness in our community.”

Ad

Part of the purpose of the (Housing First Initiative) is to give us a sense of how we as a community are doing when it comes to moving the needle on the issue of homelessness,” David Rout, Murphy Center executive director

According to Rout, Fort Collins is estimated to have 364 people who have been homeless for six months or longer. The Murphy Center was able to help 20 people escape homelessness in the last quarter of their work.

“We are moving people out of homelessness but there are also people slipping into homelessness,” Rout said. “We’re trying to figure out what the gaps are in our community that prevents people from staying in their homes.”

While the Murphy Center focuses on reducing the number of homeless people in Fort Collins, it also offers hope alongside aid.

An example of this is found in the Front Range Community College art department. Members of this program and guests of the Murphy Center were offered the chance to express themselves through art. Together, they created a mural for the Murphy Center.

“(The mural) represents the … aspirational side of what we do as service providers,” Rout said. “Homelessness is not a happy topic. It’s not something we should accept that people experience. The mural reflects a hopefulness that we as a community can do more and make a real difference when it comes to the issue as a whole.”

Collegian reporter Charlotte Lang can be reached news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChartrickWrites.