A pilot program is being launched to support homeless children in the Montrose County School District (MCSD.)

MCSD is partnering with Housing Resources of Western Colorado (HRWC) and Hilltop Community Resources to assist with housing insecurity and other needs for five families over two years. Two families will enroll in the first year, and three will in the second.

HRWC will secure safe and affordable housing for the families, according to a news release. They’ll also provide families with a counselor who will coach families through skills such as budgeting.

Meanwhile, Hilltop will assign case managers to families who will help those families improve in areas such as employment, health, parenting and basic needs.

“Hilltop is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with HRWC and Montrose and Olathe Schools to provide supportive services to families in need of safe and stable housing,” said Josie Anders-Mize, Director of Regional Services for Hilltop. “Our hope is that this program will lead to future funding that will help us expand services in the affordable housing arena.”

According to the news release, MCSD identified 221 children as being homeless last school year. A district liaison will identify candidates for the pilot program based on needs.

Their prioritization of needs are:

Vulnerable or victimized to trafficking or sex work

Vulnerability to illness or death

Significant challenges or functional impairments, including physical, mental development or behavior health disabilities.

Other factors determined by the community that are based on severity of needs

High utilization of crisis or emergency services based on need

The extent to which people, especially youth and children are unsheltered.

Risk of continued homelessness

Families within the program will receive help from MCSD to ensure that students maintain an attendance of 85% or better and earn grades a C-grade or better.

“Stable housing is a foundation of childhood development as children need dependable structure in their lives to learn and grow,” said MCSD Superintendent Carrie Stephenson. “Montrose County School District supports every effort to provide our economically disadvantaged families with housing resources that support student livelihood and learning.”

Anyone interested in the program should email shannon.yanosky@mcsd.org or speak with the student’s school counselor.