- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - The Longmont City Council and Boulder County Commissioners are collaborating on permanent supportive housing for some homeless people.

Robin Bohannan, with the county’s Housing and Human Services, said the county consortium of cities is discussing a study exploring ways to house roughly 300 homeless people in Boulder County who she said are burdening community resources.

The study will cost between $50,000 and $75,000.

“These are the folks that cycle in and out of the ERs and use public services, public safety services and crisis services,” Bohannan said. “They are impacting the community and the county and are the ones that cause our residents to complain, etcetera.”

Of those 300 people countywide, Bohannan said 10 were in Longmont and that these people needed not only housing, but support services they can use for physical, mental or substance abuse issues.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Bagley asked the commissioners whether this measure was just a “Band-Aid.”

“The bigger question is what is the long-term solution for affordable housing,” Bagley said. “How does this proposal play into that discussion? Now it’s 10 to 20 units, then in 10 years we have to talk about how affordable housing is a huge need. Is there an ongoing funding source and a supply-side solution? Where are we going to put this because I can see neighborhoods being up in arms about this.”

Council Member Gabe Santos also said he would like to see the county lead meetings with all of the Boulder County cities.

“What are the other cities doing?” Santos said. “As far as I’m concerned they’re not doing enough or not doing anything.”

Santos and Bagley both added that they’d heard of some people coming from other cities or towns to Longmont for services.

“Are these people from Longmont or do they come here as outsiders and cause problems?” Bagley said.

Council Member Sarah Levison expressed concern over what would happen to homeless people the city or county might house as they age.

“What do we do when these people in permanent housing have to move to nursing homes?” Levison said. “Are there then going to be slots for folks aging out? Do we need to make sure there are those slots?”

Levison also said that the issue was important to Longmont because it related to Longmont’s ability to attract and retain businesses and employees.

“We really do have to get people paid at a fair wage for the type of job they’re doing and they also have to be able to live here,” Levison said

Santos said that the conversation was “turning into a minimum wage discussion and it doesn’t need to be.”

Deb Gardner, 2015 commission chair, said the county was committed to the long-term question of housing for the homeless and affordable housing and that the Boulder County consortium of cities would be a good place to start on working on a possible subcommittee on affordable housing.

Santos jumped in for the last word on the subject.

“As a caveat I would say that all the cities need to be involved and have skin in the game as far as funding.”

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, https://timescall.com/

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