La Plata ‘exhausted options’ for managed camp, closing Purple Cliffs in 2022 – The Journal
The La Plata County Board of Commissioners, along with county staff, law enforcement, and legal professionals, support our ongoing efforts to find workable solutions to alleviate the homelessness crisis in Durango and throughout around.
As outlined in Durango-La Plata County’s 2020 Homelessness Strategic Plan, the impact of homelessness on the entire population is felt every day and it has only gotten worse over the years. over the years that followed. The recent and disappointing news that the US Highway 160 property will not operate for a managed camp due to site constraints that cannot be overcome means that La Plata County has now exhausted all of its options to open a managed camp for replace the unregulated camp at Purple Falaises.
The current situation at Purple Cliffs, which sits on county land just outside the city limits, and has become a de facto homeless camp since it was first occupied after the The 416 fire in 2018 is a threat to public safety and every individual who occupies space there. . Purple Cliffs has provided a “relief valve” for the homeless crisis in the city since 2018. Although there have been many efforts and stated intentions to find an alternative to Purple Cliffs as four winters have passed, we and the community can simply no longer tolerate the situation there, and will evacuate and close this area to camping in 2022.
The county government, working with partners like the City of Durango and the Alliance of Neighbors in Need, has provided trash removal service, portable toilets, and fresh water delivery to people living in Purple Cliffs. Despite these efforts, it remains constantly littered with everything from human and food waste to discarded furniture, drug paraphernalia and dangerous campfire sites. La Plata County Sheriff’s Deputies make regular, if not daily, visits to Purple Cliffs. Sheriff’s deputies patrol a 1,700 square mile county and must focus on the law enforcement needs of 55,000 residents, not spend a disproportionate amount of their time at Purple Cliffs. Finally, Purple Cliffs is located on a narrow county road that has no sidewalks, posing a high risk to drivers, pedestrians, and emergency responders.
As we said earlier, thinking that homelessness can be “solved” is not a realistic goal; on the contrary, responsible and effective management can mitigate negative impacts locally both on the homeless population and on the community as a whole. Although the county does not play a leading role, we remain strongly committed to helping resolve the issue. So we will:
• Allocate $1,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding to implement a solution.
• Continue to be an active member of the Homelessness Coordinating Council.
• Support the use of joint sales tax for solutions.
• Help homeless people connect to public benefits and services.
• Stay around the table in future collaborative discussions.
We are committed to continuing to work on implementing the solutions outlined in the Homelessness Strategic Plan to help make homelessness a rare, brief and one-time event. We look forward to the opportunity to continue doing our part as we and our partners work on behalf of all La Plata County residents.
Matt Salka, Chairman, La Plata County Board of Commissioners;
Marsha Porter-Norton, La Plata County Commissioner;
Clyde Church, La Plata County Commissioner;
La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.