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Don’t ‘dismiss all as NIMBYs’

Most who live in our diverse community want to just return home at the end of the day and feel safe in our own sanctuaries. The unhoused do not have that privilege, often because of events out of their control. Others who are homeless remain unhoused by choice or because of addictions or mental illness.

We assume the majority of homeless are law-abiding. But when the Durango City Council voted against using joint city-county sales tax to help fund Community Compassion Outreach’s request for an all volunteer-run warming shelter close to downtown, it wasn’t the law-abiding, unhoused population that likely shaped their decision.

Instead, the Council heard story after story from residents threatened by homeless people who had wandered onto their private property. They heard from constituents whose tools and family possessions had been stolen. Front yards were used as toilets the last time a neighborhood church launched a similar, well-intended mission, said several who attended the City Council meeting.

When Councilor Kim Baxter said it would be better to serve the unhoused on “an empty piece of land in the middle of nowhere,” maybe it’s because of the inconvenient truth echoed by many at the meeting: Durango’s unhoused have a track record of damaging neighborhoods, and posing a threat to those who live and work there.

Perhaps those interested in assuming these risks and costs ought to step up and offer their own backyards, rather than dismiss all who say “no” as NIMBYs.

Karen Brucoli Anesi