DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Douglas County commissioners are seeking solutions for their unhoused community. Homes built at the size of a little more than 60 square feet could be one path forward.
The shelters would cost Douglas County $200,000, and the county has considered placing them near the Douglas County Justice Center in Castle Rock — though a final location on where they'd be placed hasn't been decided.
The shelters, which are made from aluminum and composite panels, are already being used in one temporary housing community located at the Salvation Army on East 33rd Avenue and Peoria Street in Aurora.
During a Douglas County Board of Commissioners work session on June 13, commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted for staff members to draft a formal resolution for a temporary housing community. The resolution could be given its final approval during a public business meeting scheduled for June 28.
"These [pallets] are safe, clean, aesthetic, case-managed, camouflaged, and, by the way, it supports and undergirds our code enforcement," Laydon said.
Laydon leads the county's homeless initiative. For close to two years, the county has been working aggressively to find solutions for the unhoused community, according to the commissioner.
"Our model is more of a housing plus, meaning that, yes... a place for people to spend the night, but it's also wraparound services, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, job counseling," he said.
Laydon also cited this 2021 ruling from a Larimer County district judge as a reason for the county to take swift action.
"You cannot have code enforcement or cleanups unless there is a place for people to go, and that's the critical message," he said.
Initially, the mayor of Castle Rock pushed back on conversations about placing the temporary shelters near the Justice Center. Laydon said those conversations have recently shifted.
"We responded to Castle Rock's initial letter... which was received well by Mayor Jason Gray," he said.
Laydon is united with Teal. The county's third and final commissioner, Lora Thomas, said she sees the situation "differently."
"I haven't had any citizen or any law enforcement officer come to me and say, 'I have a tent city here that I need to take care of, and I can't do it without a shelter.' So I don't know that we have the problem here... that Aurora has, that Denver has, that Colorado Springs has," Thomas said.
A public town hall to discuss the proposal is scheduled for Wednesday from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Philip Miller Building in Castle Rock.