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Celebrating 40 years serving Southwest Colorado!

From Our Executive Director
Housing Solutions for the Southwest celebrates serving Southwest Colorado for 40 years, with 40 brand new affordable housing units! Espero Apartments has been in development for many years, with construction beginning during the pandemic. Despite this tremendous challenge, Espero is on schedule and budget and will be completed by the fall of this year, housing 40 residents. Espero is funded with multiple public and private resources, including local funding, donations, foundational funding, and government funding, including the Colorado Division of Housing and Low Income Housing Tax Credits through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA). All 1-bedroom units are reserved for people exiting homelessness, earning at or below 30% AMI, and living with a disability. Housing Solutions for the Southwest and BlueLine Development are co-developers of Espero Apartments, with the City of Durango donating the land. Service partners include AXIS Health System, Manna, Southwest Center for Independence, and members of the local Continuum of Care.

As the Executive Director of Housing Solutions for the last ten years, no year has been both as challenging and rewarding as 2020. The good news is that housing programs are growing, bringing in multiple sources of rental subsidies, units, and programs to SW Colorado. For example, Housing Solutions is significantly expanding the Housing Choice Voucher Program (commonly referred to as "Section 8"), which currently provides approximately $1.5 million in rental assistance to the region each year. One of the challenges is that people struggle to locate units that meet the payment standards for the program. As a result, Housing Solutions consistently advocates for increased payment standards, but increases are not keeping up with the recent exponential increases in rent. This reality underscores the need to create new and preserve existing affordable housing.

Housing Solutions provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional emergency rental assistance funds to respond to the pandemic while being nimble enough to change our service model to assist people in many different ways. The flexibility, innovation, and persistence of the Housing Solutions staff made it possible to increase the agency’s capacity. I never envisioned building a bubble with an outdoor heater to allow staff to continue to meet with clients outdoors through the winter. Responding to the housing crisis has required adaptability, creativity, and patience from the entire Housing Solutions team and the people we serve. Despite our increasing capacity, there is a need for unprecedented collaborative efforts to address affordable housing across the region. The time has come to make bold, lasting, and impactful changes to improve housing opportunities. The communities in SW Colorado are up to the challenge.

Each day, we work with residents who share experiences of substantial rent increases, loss of rental housing because their home is being sold or transitioned into a vacation rental, and the frustration of would-be first-time homebuyers in this highly competitive market. Housing for workers of all types and income levels is crucial to the fabric of this community. Our housing counselors assist clients who are making difficult choices about essential needs, including food, healthcare, medicine, transportation, and housing. The counselors’ knowledge about local resources can be tremendously helpful. The Community Emergency Assistance Coalition (CEAC) program increasingly works with people who have never sought emergency assistance of any kind, earn a "livable" wage, but are housing cost-burdened.

In response to the pandemic, communities, governments, organizations, and individuals are rethinking almost everything, from bump-outs downtown to housing. I am encouraged by steps taken nationally, in Colorado, and by our local leaders to address the housing crisis. Positive changes include revisions to housing policy that promote affordable housing, laws that protect renters in Colorado, expansion of rental assistance programs, property owner assistance for unpaid rent, and significant collaborative efforts locally to address housing needs. Potential funding opportunities, proposed policy initiatives, and a collective desire to address housing affordability make me hopeful.
On behalf of every community member the agency has worked with, I want to express my sincere gratitude to those who have supported and trusted Housing Solutions over the last 40 years. The list of supporters and collaborative partners includes those serving a role on the Board of Directors, funders of all types, other agencies, community leaders, local businesses, and many more. Another thank you goes to the Housing Solutions staff, past and present. Their hard work, every single day, has kept the agency effective and relevant for 40 years and into the future. 

In Gratitude,
Elizabeth Salkind
Help Fund Espero Apartments- Supportive Housing

Espero Apartments is 40 units of affordable housing for people who are low income, living with a disability and exiting homelessness. This project addresses a long-standing gap in housing units for those with the lowest incomes in our community. We are fundraising to furnish units and provide on-site services. This is an opportunity for your group, club, business, or charitable group to sponsor this project opening in October 2021. For more information on how to sponsor or donate to our project, click the images below or follow this link.

We want to thank Espero's sponsors thus far!

Colorado Health Foundation
Purgatory Resort
Hal and Beverly Jackson
Daniel and Polly Morgenstern
Susan Reese
Greg and Karen Bell
Ken and Joann Beegles
Peter Norton and Judy Hodges
John Condie and Wanda Ellingson
Ruth Guarino
Katie Sturm Real Estate
Pak Rat Storage
Cindy Atchison

And investments in our work that made this project a reality!

Enterprise Community Partners
Colorado Health Foundation
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Rocky Mountain Health Foundation
The City of Durango
To become a sponsor of Espero Apartments, please mail your donation to:
Housing Solutions for the Southwest
295 Girard St.
Durango, CO 81303
(Please write Espero on the memo of your check along with the sponsorship form attached to this e-mail)
Or through our website
Or, contact Brigid to discuss donations, sponsorships, or help you may be able to offer: [email protected] or 970-259-1086 x21
Staffing changes and additions...
Kelsey Schumacher is passionate about building community and addressing the housing disparities and inequities in Durango. She started working for Housing Solutions in April 2021 and is excited to be part of an organization that provides a variety of housing programs to the community. Kelsey is deeply committed to anti-oppression and social justice work. She loves the outdoors, has a wide variety of hobbies, and is especially fond of snowboarding and martial arts.
I was born in Mexico and migrated to Beautiful Durango in 1993. I have a Teaching certification from FLC and a B.A. in Business from the State of Morelos University. Most of my professional experience has been in non-profit and community-oriented organizations. I am CEAC’s Program Manager and Housing Counselor. I am a woman of color, bicultural, bilingual, activist, artist, lover, educator, and apprentice. A complicated being in search of simplicity, knowledge, and improvement. Community, nature, family, friends, and traveling are some of the many passions I must include in my personal path. I embrace any approach to life that would involve love and compassion.
"Upon entering the Housing Solutions establishment, I was treated with heartfelt compassion"- TJ, CEAC applicant
Sophie is a recent Fort Lewis College graduate and is serving at Housing Solutions as an AmeriCorps member. As housing navigator, Sophie works most closely with the CEAC and ESG programs. When Sophie isn’t serving, she loves to spend her time riding her bicycle. She is a professional cyclist for an Oregon-based, women’s cyclocross team. She coaches different youth cycling programs and is an advocate for women in cycling.
LORA ZEITLER, Program Director
I have been working for Housing Solutions for almost 15 years. During my time at Housing Solutions I served as the Program Manager for multiple housing programs providing rental assistance and case management services to assist families and individuals transition from homelessness to transitional housing. More recently, I was promoted to the Programs Director position, where I oversee the amazing work being done by the housing program team. Housing Voucher Program, the Community Emergency Assistance Program, three Homeless Prevention Programs, and two Rapid Rehousing programs. It has been an honor to work at Housing Solutions and to provide such an essential service to our community.
Molly Fisher has worked for Housing Solutions as a case manager since the beginning of 2020 after she served here as an Americorps member in 2019. Before coming to Housing Solutions, Molly worked a variety of jobs such as a coordinator at a wildlife refuge, a medical assistant, and a biohazard cleanup technician. She first came to Durango in 2014 and now calls Durango home. When not at work, she enjoys exploring the canyons and mountains of the Southwest with her dog.
Thank you so much for your help. You truly provided a safe and comfortable home for us. I am so thankful as a mom who only want to keep my family safe and looking forward to a brighter and happier future."- EH, Program Participant
Lori Nightingale is an intake Coordinator and helps people connect with the help they need. Lori states that, "being part of a solution for so many during this last year with all of its difficulties, has made me both proud and humble."
Lori enjoys art projects and spoiling her pets when she is not working. She also loves enjoying all that Colorado has to offer.

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A Benefit for Housing Solutions For The Southwest
UpBeat! Productions present an afternoon of live music, dancing, and karaoke to benefit Housing Solutions for the Southwest (HSSW). The family-friendly event will take place at the Powerhouse Science Center Sunday, August 15th from 4-7 pm. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at:
and at the door. Kids 12 and under are free. A cash bar and food trucks will also be on hand.
Drama Club is an exciting new band on the Durango music scene and makes its debut at this event. Specializing in roots, rock, and soul, including songs by The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, and Aretha Franklin, they guarantee ”You’ll Shake That Thang!” They’re offering up Band Blind Date, a live band karaoke contest that gives some brave and lucky attendees a chance to perform with the band, and audience members will receive a souvenir songbook so they can sing along, too! Karaoke space is limited & first-come-first-served, so be sure to show up early to reserve your spot.
For information about this event and to buy tickets contact Susan Banes
Open & Anticipated Positions
Housing Case Manager: job description here
email resume and cover letter to: [email protected]
Seeking (2) AmeriCorps Members
We are seeking (2) AmeriCorps Members to serve at Espero Apartments as Housing Navigators. The individuals working within these positions will be a part of changing lives and opening this awesome project.
The members selected for service will begin September 1st. In addition to the AmeriCorps monthly living allowance and other benefits, Housing Solutions has a shared housing option available. We are willing to work with college schedules as well!

Seeking Front Desk @ Espero Apartments- Anticipated start date: September 2021
We will be hiring for front desk support at Espero Apartments during the evening and overnight hours. We are seeking applicants full-time, part-time, and on a substitute basis. We will open in October but would like to begin training new people in September. Please send resumes to: [email protected]
Housing Solutions and Other News
Housing Solutions was nominated for Nonprofit of the Year at the Chamber of Commerce annual Durango Rocks! event. Congrats to Parker's Animal Rescue, also nominated for the award! Congrats to Region 9 Economic Development, for winning this well-deserved award! They were once our downstairs neighbors and we love them.
2020 Program Report

Indeed 2020 was a year of urgent needs in SW Colorado. With additional funding support from Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, CERF & The Community Foundation, La Plata Electric, Durango Area Association of Realtors, La Plata County, and many other faith based, business and individuals donors, the coalition was able to provide $207,404.56 in emergency assistance to 247 households. This was a $75,000 in spending from 2019.
  • 26% of applicants were adults over age 55
  • 21% were single parent household
  • 16% were members of our immigrant community
  • 168 households were referred to additional programs and services through Housing Solutions.
  • CEAC Coalition Members include: La Plata County Human Services, United Way, Round-Up Foundation, VOA, Housing Solutions, Rocky Mountain Health Foundation and Salvation Army.
puzzle house
CSBG Program Report

Housing Solutions serves as a long term recipient of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) for the region. The anti-poverty funding is also subgranted to six additional community service agencies across the region. Statistics for the grant ending date 9/30/2020 include:

  • 1,121 unduplicated individuals
  • 721 households
  • CSBG also invested CARES Act funding locally that supported numerous efforts related to COVID relief.

Housing Choice Vouchers

In 2020, the Housing Choice Voucher program continued to serve households receiving rental assistance in Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata Counties. In addition, the program added 9 Supportive Housing Vouchers for households exiting homelessness. Over 145 households were served by this important community resource in 2020. Our vouchers also include specialized housing voucher options for veterans, homeless youth and youth exiting foster care. We continue to grow into 2021 as we prepare to add additional housing vouchers and staff capacity.

Rehab, Crisis Intervention and Weatherization

  • 35 heating system repairs
  • 28 heating system replacements
  • 5 households received emergency rehab to make emergency repairs. Because of COVID-19, this program experienced lower demand than normal. In 2021, we have already experienced an increase in demand with 7 projects underway.
  • In addition, through a partnership with Housing Resources of Western Colorado, we host a Weatherization Program serving the 5-county region.

COVID Relief Efforts
Many agencies struggled with capacity in 2020, especially as we shifted from in-person to remote work with our community members. Nonetheless we accepted and administered and additional funding to serve those in need across the region. We were able to assist 148 households with 1-5 months of rental assistance due to a COVID related income loss. We were able to help 20
additional households exit homelessness.
Emergency Utility Assistance

Housing Solutions is a long-time partner with Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC). In 2020, we served with emergency heat and electric assistance. In addition, we facilitated numerous emergency LEAP applications for those in need of ongoing assistance.
Homeless Prevention Programs

In addition to CEAC and the COVID related assistance provided in 2020, we administer several small grants that assist with preventing housing loss. These programs are more intensive and ongoing with a great deal of case management support. We prioritize families with young children and transition aged youth with this program. We served 14 households with this funding in 2020.
Ending Homelessness

Housing Solutions continues to lead the Southwest Continuum of Care, a group meeting monthly consisting of health, human service and housing agencies. The group collaborated and organizes efforts to address homelessness across a five county region. In 2020, we served 83 households in exiting homelessness including 59 children Services provided include housing navigation, security deposits and rental assistance from 1-24 months.
Southwest Horizon Ranch

  • Housed 60- families in our 2 and 3 bedroom units.
  • Worked with the State to obtain rental assistance for residents impacted by COVID
  • Made numerous improvements to the property landscaping and homes.
  • Completed our annual Tax Credit Audit with no findings

Housing Programs for Survivors

  • We provide housing programs that work closely with victim services providers to ensure that survivors receive services needed to transition
  • We served 36 households across the region.
  • Our partners in these efforts include Volunteers of America, SASO, Alternative Horizons, and Renew

Referrals & Resources

  • Every year, our staff provides over 2000 referrals and/or information to emergency resources across the region and state. We maintain a comprehensive list of affordable housing units in our 5-County Region.
Our Amazing Grant Funders!

La Plata County