Durango City Council established a legal framework Tuesday to permit permanent supportive housing in city limits, an amendment to land-use codes that will allow developers to build affordable housing for homeless and disabled residents on city-owned property.
Permanent supportive housing is intended to function as low-barrier, non-time-limited affordable housing for residents who earn 30 percent of the area’s median income and are experiencing homelessness or have disabilities, according to the approved land-use code language.
City Council approved the land-use code change to recognize permanent supportive housing by a 5-0 vote.
The impetus behind the change, said Assistant City Manager Kevin Hall, was discussions with Housing Solutions for the Southwest in the past month about the details of a 40-unit permanent supportive housing project proposed for the city’s social services campus, an area near Manna soup kitchen and the Durango Community Shelter run by Volunteers of America.
The city leases a large, empty parcel on the property at almost no cost to various social service organizations that could work for a permanent supportive housing project, Hall said. But it was not zoned to allow such development, so city staff suggested the council make a change to allow such a building, he said.
Changing the city’s zoning rules to allow such a project gives Housing Solutions for the Southwest the legal footing it needs to apply for state low-income housing tax credits, Hall said.
“In order to get everything in order for them to apply for low-income housing tax credits, they need a letter from the city basically saying all the land-use requirements are in place to make that happen,” he said.
If awarded the tax credits, Housing Solutions for the Southwest will have the means to finance a project, Hall said. The nonprofit must then submit design plans to the city for review by the Planning Commission and City Council.
Brigid Korce, program development director for Housing Solutions for the Southwest, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
City staff have been working with Housing Solutions for the Southwest to refine a conceptual plan, which includes details such as parking and access, Hall said. Staff will continue to work with Housing Solutions for the Southwest to ensure the proposal, when submitted, will comply with city codes, he said.
Housing Solutions for the Southwest has not submitted a formal application for development, Hall said. City Councilor Dean Brookie said this land-use change is in anticipation of the Housing Solutions for the Southwest permanent supportive housing.
“Hopefully, we can make this happen in the next year,” Brookie said.