Large, stand-alone metal lockers could give homeless residents in Durango a safe place to store their belongings, while officials and nonprofits work on long-term housing solutions.
The Neighbors in Need Alliance, a Durango faith-based group, is planning to pilot six lockers after hearing from homeless residents that lockers would help protect their belongings from theft, said Caroline Kinser, an organizer with the group.
“They have no safe place to keep clothes, extra food, important papers,” she said.
The faith-based group is working on setting up a long-term shelter. But the lockers could fill a short-term need.
The alliance’s idea for lockers came from a program in Lisbon, Portugal, run by a nonprofit that aims to help homeless people get jobs and find housing, according to AFP news.
The oblong lockers in Lisbon were built under rain shelters and provide space for food and clothes. They are also lifted off the ground on metal stands, to prevent water damage, Kinser said.
The shelters for lockers in Durango might mirror the design of local trolley stops, she said.
The Neighbors in Need Alliance was recently invited to present its idea to Durango city officials this fall, Kinser said.
The city has some funding in its 2019 budget that could be used for the lockers. The alliance expects additional fundraising will be needed to supplement any city contribution.
The alliance envisions providing the lockers to homeless residents who are already working with a mentor from alliance to move out of homelessness, she said.
However, important details of the locker pilot program have yet to be worked out.
The group needs to identify land for the lockers and determine how the lockers will be monitored, Kinser said. But the group was heartened by the city of Durango’s interest in the project, she said.