When Redtail Ponds Development, a housing project for primarily homeless low-income people, was announced to be opened next year, Seth and Kelly Kelley noticed that their neighbors were extremely worried about it at a neighborhood meeting. They decided to teach their neighbors about being more tolerant by showing them what homeless people are really like!

They opened Redtail Coffee close to where the Redtail Ponds housing project will be in Fort Collins, Colorado. Then they hired a homeless man to work for them! And he’s been doing a terrific job like a boss! His life is extremely difficult, but he shows up on time for work and always exceeds expectations of his employers, co-workers, and most importantly customers!

To illustrate that it’s much harder for a homeless person to maintain employment than for someone with a home: A typical morning for a homeless person living in a shelter includes waiting in line to take a shower, waiting in line for breakfast and then making sure you catch a bus (or possibly multiple buses) to work in time. As Seth Kelley put it, “It takes a tremendous amount of work, way more than the average person, just to get out of homelessness.”

Alongside the homeless man, the Kelleys hired two experienced baristas. According to patrons, the coffee is very good and they feel like they’re doing something good by purchasing their cup o Joe at Redtail. For example, Scott Blum is a daily consumer of Redtail Coffee and he said, “The coffee is awesome, but it’s just a really good cause, too.” More locations are planned and the Kelleys will be hiring exclusively from the Redtail Ponds housing project in the future!
What about the profit? Is Redtail Coffee making any money? In a word: Yes! After operating for just three months, Redtail Coffee has already turned a profit. This is extremely rare for any startup, let alone one also serving a social purpose. Around here, we call that being boss!
It’s almost impossible to get a job as a homeless person and it’s even more difficult to get a home without a job! As Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) summed up this catch-22 after shadowing a homeless man for a day, “He can’t get a job without a permanent address and can’t get a permanent address without a job.”
For every job opening in the United States, there are three people looking for employment. Add homelessness to that and you’re looking at a very hopeless situation. Redtail Coffee will change that situation a tiny bit in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Think Progress