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Nonprofits make pitch for funding from Ignacio Town Board

Agencies often need matching grants, making it a good value for local governments
Kelsey Lansing, left, and Laura Latimer, executive director of Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO), talk about violence on Native women at the ELHI Building in Ignacio. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

As part of the budget process for 2022, members of the Ignacio Town Board heard requests this week for funding from several nonprofit agencies.

Some agencies, such as Community Connections and Roadrunner Transit, said they receive most of their funding from federal and state agencies, which often requires a local match. So while contributions from local municipalities don’t provide a majority of funding, they are important to obtain more money, representatives said.

Axis Health System requested $1,000 to fund its Acute Treatment Unit, which provides short-term care for mental health needs. In 2020, Axis provided 133 crisis assessments, with six residents moving into the treatment unit for a total of 20 nights of care.

Community Connections CEO Tara Kiene requested $2,500 to provide services for residents in Ignacio who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Last year, Community Connections served 531 residents in La Plata County, and 48 of them were in Ignacio.

“Our goal is to ensure people in rural communities can access the same services that are available in the larger cities,” Kiene said.

HomesFund requested $1,808 in funding to continue its programs for homebuyer education, housing counseling and mortgage assistance.

In 2019, rent in Ignacio for a one-bedroom unit cost $650 a month, and rents have increased since then, said Lisa Bloomquist, a representative for the agency.

“It’s gotten more and more difficult to purchase a home,” she said.

With the median home price in Ignacio of $273,000, about half of the families in town make less than the $53,000 income needed to qualify for a loan.

Seventeen Ignacio-area families have used HomesFund mortgage assistance to buy a home, totaling $823,000 in mortgage assistance in the area. The average home price in the area using the agency’s assistance is $216,273.

The Ignacio Creative District thanked the town for its previous support, which the agency used to become a federally recognized nonprofit agency.

The district is requesting $5,000 in funding this year for operations to hire an executive director and project manager, said Treasurer Stephani Burditt.

La Plata Youth Services wants to increase its programs serving students in the Ignacio School District, said Katy Pepinsky, executive director. Its restorative justice and youth diversion programs helped 52 youths in La Plata County last year, including two from the Ignacio area.

In typical years, the agency serves about 10 children in the area, she said. More families have started requesting services earlier, as well, before they become involved with law enforcement.

The agency is requesting $9,800 for youth diversion services, including screening, case management, supportive services, advocacy, restorative justice and treatment for youths and families.

Sexual Assault Services Organization requested $2,700 to maintain its Ignacio office and provide services to area families. In 2020, SASO served 210 clients, including 20 calls from the Ignacio area. The agency opened an office in the Ignacio ELHI building, but closed for a brief time to walk-ins during the start of the pandemic, said Laura Latimer, executive director.

The Southern Colorado Community Action Agency requested $15,000 from the town for a local match for federal transit money.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe expanded its Dial A Ride service to Bayfield in April, said Jay Rhodes with Roadrunner Transit. The agency has lost about half of its riders because of COVID-19, while maintenance and fuel costs are rising.

“Transit is huge,” he said. “It costs a lot of money.”

The board is set to make its decision about nonprofit funding at its Dec. 13 meeting, when the town will finalize its 2022 budget.

In other action, Ignacio Police Chief Kirk Phillips said the Light Up Ignacio celebration is set for Dec. 3 in downtown Ignacio, with a light parade and activities at Ignacio Community Library and the ELHI building.

The department has received federal grants to replace handheld portable radios and body cameras by the end of the year, Phillips said.

An earlier version of this story erred in saying the SASO office in Ignacio closed as a result of the pandemic. It closed for a brief time during the start of the pandemic.

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