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‘Disappointed’ Adventure Inn deal for bridge housing fell through

I was disappointed that the proposed purchase of the Adventure Inn in Durango had fallen through, as reported in The Durango Herald on March 30. Bridge housing, as the name implies, is a critical part of the continuum of care for housing vulnerable populations, and focuses primarily on families and elders who need a place to land while earnestly attempting to mitigate the circumstances that caused them to lose their homes.

Bridge housing is not for the chronically homeless population. It is not a “managed camp” and it is not an emergency shelter. As the county has clearly articulated, bridge housing focuses on making homelessness rare, brief and a one-time event.

Homelessness is not a one-size-fits-all description for those who find themselves unhoused. We must understand, and address, the multifaceted nature of homelessness and the multifaceted solutions. Housing is, of course, foundational and bridge housing is part of the continuum of care.

According to the article pertaining to the Adventure Inn, there was uncertainty around zoning compatibility and that uncertainty may have played a role in the ultimate failure for this bridge housing to go forward. While the city planning department did eventually give a limited zoning verification letter, it appears the applicant was required to complete steps not usual for this request.

This is not standard procedure and I am concerned that our existing requirements are not flexible enough to address the creation of the needed continuum of care.

In order to address the ongoing issues of homelessness, we need to develop a viable continuum of care. Bridge housing is a crucial step in that continuum. The failure of the Adventure Inn process has highlighted a potential obstacle in the process. The City Council needs to review existing policies to ensure that future attempts to develop a robust multifaceted robust continuum of care are supported.

The issues surrounding homelessness are not new to our area. After a year-long collaborative process involving most aspects of homelessness, the 2020 Strategic Plan on Homelessness was adopted by La Plata County and the city of Durango. A previous Council shelved the report and the current councilors have not seen fit to revisit it.

However, the Durango 2022 Adopted Strategic Plan does address the need of Council to:

1) Continue to work with La Plata County to identify and implement strategies to support individuals experiencing homelessness, and to mitigate negative impacts of homelessness on the community.

2) Provide funds and resources to support community partners in their efforts to serve individuals and families attempting to transition out of homelessness, so they can be successful. The actions of the Council don’t appear to be aligned with the commitments addressed in the 2020 Strategic Plan.

We are a caring community and the housing struggles of our neighbors and friends need to be elevated. The Council and employees are good people with a tough job – let’s all work together to better our home.

A resident of Durango since 1983, Julie Cooley in retirement is involved in – and advocates for – the homeless and affordable housing.