A stimulus shot in the arm for Pike’s Peak veterans

With its stimulus spending, the Obama administration is looking to do two main things: put people to work immediately and create jobs for the future. The best stimulus projects do both.

A proposal being floated in Colorado Springs by a nonprofit counseling group called Pike’s Peak Behavioral Health puts its increasing population of military veteran clients and patients to work now with plans for work in the future, and has the added benefit of making something useful of foreclosed apartment projects around the state.

As reported by the New York Times yesterday:

[The group] wants to buy a half-built foreclosed apartment project near the Fort Carson Army base. Using military veterans to complete the construction project, the group would sell the buildings and use the proceeds to buy another property, and repeat the process.

The group also wants to hire veterans as “peer navigators” in a buddy system to guide wounded and troubled veterans into civilian life, helping them with things like job applications and the fine print at the department of motor vehicles.

Pikes sees its main challenge now as getting a piece of … the $787 billion federal stimulus package beginning to filter down through state and local governments.

[T]he group’s leaders said it was a good time to think creatively. “We see a growing need,” said Jonathan Liebert, the deputy director of clinical services at a job training unit, “and just a whole lot of opportunity, too.”

All of that sounds doable and worthwhile. Yet, given the vagaries of government funding in general and of the enormous stimulus project in particular, it’s not clear the Pike’s Peak proposal will even rate among all the roads and alternative energy initiatives.

Whether the stimulus even has a place for the ideas Pikes is pursuing is not clear. The group is also trying to build support for a Department of Defense appropriations bill that would channel startup money to it, but its journey reflects what many midsize organizations, not well known beyond their home cities, are going through as they try to work the mysterious gears of federal financing at a time of economic upheaval and growing social need.

Is the office of Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn on the case?