A new 40-unit housing complex that was eight years in the building has opened its doors to offer a home, help and hope for residents experiencing homelessness in Durango. You’re watching the Local News Network brought to you by Express Employment Professionals and Closets Plus. I’m Wendy Graham Settle. Housing Solutions of the Southwest celebrated the grand opening of its new permanent supportive housing complex in Durango. With a ribbon-cutting ceremony, open house, tours, and tears of joy and relief. Relief that an eight year odyssey to complete the project had finally concluded. The real work begins when residents who have suffered from homelessness or housing insecurity begin to move in and put their lives back together. The complex is called Espero, for hope. And it’s the first permanent supportive housing complex in Durango. The model is based on the premise that residents cannot overcome homelessness and the problems that led them there, unless they have housing first. Once they have a permanent roof over their heads, residents will be offered services onsite, including medical and mental health services and help with finding the community resources they need to get their lives back on track.
I think one of the things that’s really important to, about permanent supportive housing that differentiates it, is the housing first idea. So the idea that instead of, what we used to do in the olden days was, and I used to run transitional housing and other types of housing and I did this, is, made people jump through a lot of hoops. And they had to be housing-ready. And this is really an acknowledgement that people can’t really work on stuff in their lives, until they have safe, stable housing, so.
LeBeau is owner of BeauxSimone Consulting, a business that has 25 years of experience assisting communities with the development, construction, and management of supportive housing. During his presentation at the grand opening, Southwest Housing Solutions Board President, RJ Reiger, said the project took eight years to become a reality because of the dozens of local, state, and federal agencies, foundations, and donors involved in its funding, construction, and management. 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 will coordinate services onsite for individual residents. Access Health Systems, the Southwest Center for Independence, and Nana’s Soup Kitchen, also will provide services onsite. BlueLine Development Incorporated, a real estate development company that specializes in low-income and affordable housing projects, will manage the property. The City of Durango provided an all but free 99-year lease for the apartment site located just below Greenmount 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. The building may be finished, but it still needs those little touches to make it home. You can help put furniture, dishes, and other items that residents will need, by shopping Espero’s wishlist on amazon.com, or by logging onto the housing solutions website at swhousingsolutions.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.