Our View: City, county move in the right direction on homelessness

City of Durango, La Plata County explore new direction for unsheletered

Durango City Council and La Plata County Commission took a significant step forward in a joint session Thursday addressing the possibility of establishing a so-called “managed camp” for unsheltered people.

Officials’ hopes are raised about a potential site on land owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The 2,700-acre CPW site is adjacent to city land and located just beyond Bodo Industrial Park. City and county staff members will meet with CPW on Monday to discuss whether the 5 to 10 acres needed for a managed camp would be available for a swap with the county.

Officials at the Thursday meeting agreed the land could be perfect for a camp sanctioned and funded by local government. The group also finally dismissed the DeNier building as a possible congregate shelter because of anticipated neighborhood opposition and other issues.

The idea of managed camps has taken hold across the nation as an affordable, if partial, way to address homelessness. In December, two such camps opened in Denver; Grand Junction and Alamosa also have managed camps. Others are being created in Morgan and Aurora, according to housing consultant Jenn Lopez.

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