Pueblo City Councilman Mark Aliff wants to end the city’s dependence on non-profits to meet the needs of the homeless.
And with winter around the corner, he says there’s no time to waste.
"It’s at the critical stage where it’s an emergency now," Aliff said. "We need to act and we need to act now."
He’s proposing a more permanent solution in the form of a city-owned shelter.
"I believe that it’s time for the city to step up and at least own the property," Aliff added. The shelter would be part of a mulch-faceted campus offering services, like mental health evaluations, all in one spot.
"The homeless community doesn’t have to go, you know, 30 miles a day to try and find services – where all those services are located in one location," he explained.
The need for those services is more now than ever since the Pueblo Rescue Mission’s shelter closed its doors back in June. Linda Bunyard with the Pueblo Human Relations Commission agree it’s a crisis.
"It isn’t just food and shelter and clothing – it is so much more," she said. But she believes this shelter would be a step in the right direction.
"It would help them get on a path to stability and living independently on their own," she added.
The shelter would cost the city between $1 to $3.5 million dollars, although a more concise estimate will be available once a location is selected.
Aliff says there are three possible locations on the table but he could not confirm where and instead, emphasizing a sense of urgency on the timeline.
"Our goal as a city council is to have a solution in place by November first," he said. Aliff will be speaking at a forum tonight centering on the topic of possible homelessness solutions.
He’ll be explaining his proposal for the permanent shelter and hoping for Pueblo residents to show up.
"I think there’s a way to do it," he said. "I know there’s a way to do it."
Other parts of Aliff’s proposal include a work program and bus passes for the homeless, plus a PSA campaign to educate the public on these issues.