Young adults facing homelessness will be able to find resources and support through a new tiny home community, operating under the promise to provide safe and affordable housing, a supportive community and life skills.
Shelley Jensen of We Fortify founded the Working Fusion community, which seeks to aid homeless youth in El Paso County by providing 18 fully-furnished, move-in ready homes, as well as individualized coaching and trauma support.
According to Jensen, the tiny homes are available to young adults between 18-25 who are directed to We Fortify through various care referral providers and nonprofit organizations in southern Colorado.
“After witnessing the effects of poverty first-hand … I was motivated to make a difference,” Jensen said.
This motivation led members of the community to contribute to Jensen’s building efforts. Ten tiny homes were completed in Working Fusion at Mill Street as of last August.
The tiny homes at Working Fusion are available for two-year leases and, in addition to their affordable and limited living expenses, tenants are provided with on-site weekly wrap-around services, stabilizing social connections and community activities.
“We [also] interview candidates for one and a half hours before housing them,” Jensen said. This interview allows Working Fusion to establish a relationship with potential tenants early on and support them as much as possible during their two-year stay.
According to Jensen, the inspiration behind We Fortify and the Working Fusion project came to her in 2016 when she began her deep dive into the causes of poverty and the resources needed to support young adults in southern Colorado who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness.
Based on her research, Jensen found that some of the first components needed to create a program that will effectively help young adults escape the cycle of poverty are “dignified housing” and “individualized trauma support,” which provide a necessary basis for achieving self-sufficiency and independence.
According to KOAA 5, Jensen received the Jefferson Award in September 2021 “for her dedication to helping young adults in El Paso County.”
In an interview with KOAA 5, Jensen acknowledged that this award should be shared, explaining that even though she founded We Fortify and the tiny homes project, she could not have done it without all of the support she received from other members of the community. “It takes a village to build a village,” she said.
Efforts to complete the Working Fusion village are ongoing, and We Fortify is accepting donations from members of the Colorado Springs community to fund and build the rest of the tiny homes.
UCCS students interested in learning more about Working Fusion at Mill Street can visit the organization’s webpage, where they can donate to the cause or sign up for regular updates over email.