COLORADO SPRINGS — Lawmakers and city councilmembers from southern Colorado gathered for a panel on Wednesday to answer some concerns from the community.
The 16th annual Legislative Town Hall — hosted by The Arc Pikes Peak Region, The Resource Exchange, Cheyenne Village, and Dungarvin — dedicated most of the time to housing and transportation concerns.
Many living in El Paso County know the struggles of finding a place to live.
“We have to work monthly and weekly in order to try and find housing for everybody,” said Tom Strand, councilmember for the City of Colorado Springs. “But, clearly those that need accessible housing that are in the ADA area and we’re very sensitive to that.”
This issue for the disabled community in Colorado Springs was a hot topic at the legislative town hall.
“We need more housing, not how do we make housing affordable,” said Senator Dennis Hisey (R) State Senate District 2. “Until we do have more, the prices aren’t going to go down.”
Lawmakers said government gets in the way of more affordable communities being built in El Paso County.
“It took three rounds, three years, for us to get some senior affordable housing in Fountain,” said Sharon Thompson, Fountain Mayor. “And the developer said ‘I can’t wait another three years. I want to continue to build in Colorado, but I can’t because I can’t wait another three years.'”
They said they’re going to work with developers to make the process more streamlined, while also coming up with incentives to build.
“When we create incentives for those builders, they will come to the table to do that,” said Bob Gardner (R) State Senate District 12. “If you tell them what they must do, it will become more expensive for them and they will go to the next city over.”
Another concern among the disabled community came in the form of transporation.
“It was six-and-a-half hours from Fountain because we actually put a city employee on it to ride our bus up to the transfer station at Pikes Peak Community College and ride it up there, spend an hour at Garden of the Gods and ride back,” said Thompson. “And he said: ‘oh my gosh I’d quit if you’d ever make me do that again.'”
For now, lawmakers said they’re encouraging people to use services they provide.
“If you see services offered, please try to use them, because we can’t keep them going if they’re not being used,” Thompson said.
Lawmakers said the best way to help is to attend city council meetings and voice your concerns.
Colorado Springs city council meetings can be found here.