After a successful winter at the Frisco Marina lot, Unsheltered in Summit looks to continue its safe parking program on Galena Street
The program aimed at providing a safe place for Summit County workers who live in their vehicles to park is also looking for a lot that can be used 24/7
Through this past winter, people living out of their vans or vehicles were allowed to stay at 25 spaces at the Frisco Marina Trailhead parking lot as part of Unsheltered in Summit’s safe parking program.
But, with summer activities soon to resume at the marina, Unsheltered in Summit came before the Frisco Town Council Tuesday, April 25, with a request to use the lot at the town-owned 602 Galena St. property for the program this summer.
“Everybody knows the situation in Summit County. It is difficult for people to find lodging, and one solution people have chosen is to make their vehicle their homes,” Unsheltered in Summit chair Diane Luellen said in an interview. “This is one way they can park very inexpensively — but more importantly safely.”
The safe parking program began in 2019 to provide a designated, secure location in parking lots for members of the local workforce to have a safe place to sleep in their vehicles. Those hoping to use the program must provide proof of employment and complete an application process that includes a questionnaire, an interview, a waiver of responsibility and a community respect agreement, Luellen said.
“The folks who utilize this program are just ordinary working people in Summit County,” Luellen said. “They could be people who wait on you at restaurants, work in construction, work at ski resorts.”
For $45 a month, Unsheltered in Summit provides access to portable bathrooms, bear-safe trash containers and a safe place to park, she said. The program is also able to connect those living in their vehicles with community resources, such as the Family & Intercultural Resource Center.
The program ran smoothly through the winter with about 33 people consistently using the available spaces, Luellen told the Frisco Town Council on Tuesday.
Town Council members appeared to be in support of allowing Unsheltered in Summit to use the parking lot at 602 Galena St. A revocable license agreement for the group’s use of 602 Galena St. will be before the council on May 9.
“I’m excited that we have the opportunity to keep it going,” Mayor Hunter Mortensen said at the meeting. “Keeping some folks in Frisco, and that we’re not sending them all away.”
However, unlike the marina space, which was available 24/7 throughout the winter, the town-owned lot at 602 Galena St. will likely only be available for Unsheltered in Summit guests between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily, since the building hosts the Colorado Workforce Center offices.
Luellen noted that because of the time restraints, some individuals involved with the program who work nights might not be able to use the space. Unsheltered in Summit also expects to have eight spaces at the County Commons in Frisco and about 14 spaces at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge, but these areas will have the same time restraints as the 602 Galena St. lot, she said.
“If there is any way that you can think of to get some spaces for 24 hours, it would really help,” Luellen told the council.
Mortensen the town would keep an eye out for available spaces.
Council member Rick Ihnken expressed support for the program but questioned whether it was serving as transitional housing for members of the workforce.
“I support the program,” Ihnken said. “But it doesn’t sound like it is transitional housing.”
Luellen said it has served as transitional housing for some people, such as a family with kids who have found a more permanent solution in Fairplay, but not everyone.
“For a few it is (transitional housing),” she said. “But for lots it isn’t. That’s the honest answer.”
With a lack of areas for the program to continue its 24-hour operations this summer, Luellen during the interview reiterated her request for help finding a space that can accommodate those living out of their vehicles day and night.
“If anybody has any ideas of any other areas that we could go to that would have an option for a 24-hour lot, we would be happy to hear from them,” she said.
Unsheltered in Summit can be reached by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
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