Hope on the Horizon for Homeless Residents

8/19/2021

A new apartment complex is expected to open this fall to offer a path to security for those experiencing homelessness. Sponsored by Serious Texas Barbecue and The Payroll Department

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A new apartment complex soon will offer a home and hope for at least 40 local residents experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q and The Payroll Department. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. It took eight years to break ground, but by October 2021, Espero Apartments will offer 40 homes of hope for residents who are low income, exiting homelessness and living with a disabling condition such as substance abuse or mental health issues. Espero means hope and it's Durango's first supportive housing complex based on the premise that people need housing first, before they can address the issues that threw them into homelessness in the first place.

This group of people that we're serving are the ones who get left behind and forgotten in the world because those of us with privilege have an easy time doing those things and forming those connections, whereas the people who just don't have the means to support themselves and work on those healthier aspects of their lives, ended up getting stuck in a really bad spot and then worse and worse things happen, more trauma compounds, and it just gets harder and harder and harder to keep going.

We accept that housing is a human right. It's a basic need. And when you provide somebody with their basic needs for shelter, food, warmth, healthcare, then they can actually become the person that they want to be. They can actually give back to the community in the way they feel is best.

Housing Solutions most recent survey on homelessness estimates that more than 200 households in La Plata County are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. A household can be one person or a family. Low income, one bedroom apartments available locally are in the greatest demand and have years long waiting lists for tenants. That's why the housing agency decided to build all one bedroom apartments for its first Supportive Housing complex. The $9.5 million facility includes a large public living area, public kitchen, meeting rooms, private offices for client consultations and an outdoor courtyard. Housing Solutions for the Southwest will be the lead service provider and Schumacher will coordinate services onsite for individual residents. Access Health Systems, the Southwest Center for Independence and Man a Soup Kitchen, also will provide services onsite. Blue Line Development Inc, a real estate development company that specializes in low income and affordable housing projects throughout the West, will manage the property when construction is complete. Housing Solutions spent eight years building partnerships and obtaining funding before the first shovel hit the ground. The city of Durango, for example, provided an all but free 99 year lease for the apartment site located just below Green Mountain Cemetery. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority awarded low income housing tax credits and a $1.25 million grant to defray costs. Foundation grants and private donations also have helped to cover construction costs with the remaining costs covered by tenant rent and State and Federal housing subsidies. Bank of the San Juan's provided the construction loan, which will be paid in full at the end of the project.

This has been a great influx of economic growth in our community as a whole, which we love to see, especially from the bank standpoint. We were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor when they were working on this. It's just a great project, even for a bank to be involved with, with not a lot of long term, long term debt on the books for us.

Coincidentally, the 40 unit complex will open as Housing Solutions celebrates it's 40th anniversary this fall, and a Espero Apartments is the agency's first supportive housing project. Another reason to celebrate.

They provide a lot of types of affordable housing. This is affordable housing that is deeply discounted for people in the really low income stages. And we also build workforce housing and work with people to access housing and find housing and so we're affordable housing across the board, and this is one specific type of funding and project that really met a gaping hole in the community in terms of need.

If you'd like to know more about the Supportive Housing Model and Espero Apartments, visit swhousingsolutions.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the local news network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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