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Durango should not deny homeless issues

My husband and I moved to Durango from a high-rent district of Southern California when he was laid off due to age. Acquaintances found us an affordable rent beyond city limits.

Facing the possibility of being homeless in our senior years is unnerving! We were unprepared for retirement with medical bills and high premiums.

Homeless people are the elderly, people with mental illness and the jobless, even the young with large numbers battling addictions. And they are veterans with physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It makes no sense to ignore them, or to brush them aside. It should matter to us that a large number of people are living outdoors in the heat of the sun, or in the bitterness of a winter’s night.

Across America, there are over 560,000 homeless on any given night. A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development survey released on Jan. 25, 2016, reported a total homeless population in Colorado of 10,550 people. Of those, 4,467 were in emergency shelters, 3,144 were in traditional housing and 2,939 were unsheltered. Also, 1,731 of that total were categorized as severely mentally ill; 1,416 were living with chronic substance abuse and 1,181 were veterans.

Someone who lives outside because he or she has no home is a problem to society. Our community should not deny the issues of homelessness; instead, we should help those who cannot find shelter.

Community Compassion Outreach of Durango Christian Church is supportive of city and county officials who are looking for a campsite solution. Our program is designed to deliver hope in an empowerment program of hiring the homeless to work flexible hours. I’m certain there are other ways to help.

Donna Mae Baukat

Durango