June 25, 2015 Vol. 14 No. 31
Task force forms to address affordable housing in Manitou
Written by Jeanne Davant   


Starlight Spectacular


The 21st annual Starlight Spectacular was held June 20 on a route winding through Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City. Riders of all ages and abilities could ride 14 to 22 miles, organizers say that approximately 1,400 riders took up the challenge. Proceeds from rider entry fees benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition, which works to maintain and preserve outdoor spaces in the Pikes Peak region. Above, from left, David and Julie Mannan, and Bill and Brenda Wernsing won the “best-lighted team” award at the Starlight Spectacular, thanks to their battery-operated LED lights. The women were college roommates 32 years ago, and the Mannans came from Iowa to participate.

Photo by Travis Lowell

062515_HousingCity Council members and other community leaders took a tour of the Dillon Motel on June 17 as a possible site for affordable housing.

After the tour, the group convened at City Hall to form the Affordable Housing Task Force and agreed to continue meeting once a month.

“Everyone is well aware that the need for affordable housing far exceeds supply,” Mayor Pro Tem Coreen Toll said. “We all know that Manitou is attractive to many people, of all ages, who wish to reside here.”

Because of the scarcity of affordable homes and apartments, families with children in Manitou schools are living in single rooms in some of the city’s older hotels, often paying high rates for accommodations that aren’t designed for long-term lodging.

Police officers and service workers who would like to be able to live in Manitou can’t afford to buy homes here. Seniors, single parents and artists also could benefit from affordable housing, task force members noted.

The consensus, however, “was that our task force is not seeking to solve the problems of the homeless,” Toll said.

The task force members agreed it’s important to preserve the diversity that characterizes Manitou. The mixture of people here makes Manitou “magical,” real estate agent Rachel Buller said, adding that she believes Manitou is the home of the “gifted and talented.”

Former Mayor Marcy Morrison, representing the Urban Renewal Authority board and Manitou Springs Chamber, said the city needs to work with nonprofit organizations experienced in affordable housing rather than going into the housing business.

Other attendees agreed that creating affordable housing is likely to be a complicated process involving many partners. Community Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, Greccio Housing, Mile High Community Fund and Thistle were mentioned as possible partners. Rezoning and new ordinances may be necessary to proceed with creative development. For example, new rules would be needed for tiny houses, which appeal to younger people and those with limited finances.

City Planner Karen Berchtold said the Planning Department is developing a comprehensive Master Plan for the community and that housing will be a significant part of that process.

The task force has no formal structure as yet but will seek to develop a clear strategy and identify partners and possible sources of funding.

Other meeting participants included Police Chief Joe Ribeiro, real estate agent and former Emergency Manager Bill Kennedy, property owner and activist Dale Latty and planner Todd Liming.

“I thought the initial meeting went well,” Councilwoman Becky Elder said. “I started out living in one (of the older motels) and ended up managing it. It was my doorway into Manitou. People a little lower on the financial scale need a place to live.”