Education

Education Committee Vision & Mission:

The Vision of the NINA Education Committee is: “All citizens of Durango and La Plata County understand the reasons for homelessness and actively support short and long-term solutions.”  

Our Mission is: “Educate citizens to the realities and myths of being homeless so they are able to explain the problem and describe solutions clearly to others while supporting short- and long-best practices.”
Homelessness is a difficult topic not only to discuss but a difficult issue to solve. The objective of this Education Section is to help the Durango community better understand not only the reasons for homelessness but also that there exists some proven strategies and programs that have worked in reducing homelessness.

Reasons for Being Homeless:

There are many reasons for being homeless or unhoused and most individuals have an opinion about both homeless individuals and why they are homeless. Many times, these opinions and feelings are extraordinarily strong. Often the opinions are negative and can be focused on such things as pan handlers, drug & addiction and the belief that individuals just don’t want to work. Some of these statements can be true but as stated above, there are multitude of reasons/facts for being homeless, many are listed below:
  • Lack of Affordable Housing
  • Shortage of Reasonably Paying Jobs
  • Loss of Job
  • Family Disconnect
  • Abuse including Spousal Abuse
  • Mental Illness
  • Veterans - DST
  • Addictions – Alcohol, Drugs, etc.
  • Preferred Lifestyle
  • Emergency events such as; Loss of job, medical expenses, auto problems, sick family member(s), increased rent and others
Among the causes for homelessness, lack of affordable housing is a critical issue, as people in this situation cannot afford rent in the area they live and work. Lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness. Because of the high cost of housing in Durango and La Plata County especially for rent, this is a significant driver of homelessness that needs to be addressed for long term, sustainable solutions.        

The reasons listed above for homelessness was compiled from national websites and from state and local organizations. For more information visit: USICH.gov, endhomlessness.org, closetohome.org, csh.org, nmceh.org, web.stanford.edu (The Causes of Homelessness in America), endhomelessness.org.

Myths Surrounding Homelessness:

Homelessness in our City, County, State and Country has been a problem for a long time and as a result, myths about the homeless have arisen over the years. Some of the myths are partly true but many are false and not based on facts. Gaining a better understanding of the facts vs the myths helps clears the air, promotes understanding and drives successful solutions.
  • It’s a permanent problem & can’t be solved
  • If you build it, they will come
  • Most choose to be unhoused
  • They don’t want to work & are lazy
  • Majority of the unhoused are addicts
  • Why do they need cell phones?
  • The majority are middle aged men
  • Why don’t they go someplace warmer?
  • Most of them are panhandlers
Homelessness can be managed by what are known as “best practices” programs and services. These are various programs and services that have been proven over time to help individuals and families exit from being homeless.
 
Athena (The consultant hired by the Durango City Council and La Plata County Commissioners) incorporated “best practices” recommendations in their comprehensive report delivered early in 2020.

In response to requests for additional information on the “Myths Surrounding Homelessness,” we are developing additional detail for the myths stated above. Initially this information is based upon research on homelessness in our Region and around the country. As we move forward addressing homelessness in Durango, additional information specific to Durango will be added periodically.

NINA Education Committee