The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Since European settlers first forced the Ute Mountain tribe onto a reservation in southwest Colorado in the mid- to late 1800s, high rates of poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse have trapped many tribal members in a dangerous cycle of unemployment and homelessness. The South Towaoc Supportive Housing Project aims to remedy that. When it opens this summer, the development will serve as the latest instance of permanent supportive housing, an increasingly popular model for addressing homelessness that generally includes on-site counseling, addiction treatment services, and job training programs. The Towaoc complex has room for 10 couples or individuals, with recovering drug addicts given priority. “Supportive housing is a good fit for tribal communities because it provides an opportunity to serve them in a culturally competent way,” says Zoe LeBeau, a consultant on the South Towaoc project. Translation: In addition to modern Western therapies, Towaoc residents can participate in traditional healing methods, such as sweat lodges and drum circles, that have served the tribe for generations.