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UPDATED: 'Chat' Sept. 4 to feature 'supportive housing' plans for homeless

Sara Vaas (shown in a cornhole game) joins the Fun Day she helped coordinate in Blunt Park in May as an Organization of Westside Neighbors board member and a Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) staffer. She's also involved in setting up CONO's upcoming Neighborhood Chats series.
Westside Pioneer file photo
Aug. 17, 2018; updated Aug. 21
       The public is invited to get-togethers called “Neighborhood Chats” scheduled geographically around the city.
       These include “Westside Chats” Tuesday, Aug. 28 and Tuesday, Sept. 4 - both at the Buffalo Lodge, 2 El Paso Blvd., from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
       Featuring city and county elected officials Aug. 28 and the homeless coordinator Sept. 4, the informal gatherings are being coordinated by the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), a nonprofit that supports neighborhood cohesiveness and receives some financial support from the city.
       For the chats, “homeless issues and infill/density” were the main focus of a citizen survey, using the nextdoor.com social media site, to find out what “topics they wanted to chat about,” Sara Vaas of CONO told the Westside Pioneer in early August.
       Update, Aug. 21: Regarding infill/density, no government staffers or private-sector individuals involved in planning and development appear on CONO's just-finalized roster of participants for Sept. 4.
       On Aug. 28 (which is subtitled "government chat"), the scheduled elected officials are City Councilmember Tom Strand, a Westside resident; and El Paso County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, whoses District 3 includes the Westside. No specific set of topics has been announced for this event.
       On Sept. 4 (subtitled "neighborhood chat"), when Andy Phelps, the city's homeless coordinator, is scheduled to be present, the discussion will be geared to “what the city is working on to address homelessness, permanent supportive housing, etc.,” Vaas said.
       Update, Aug. 21: The Sept. 4 chat now has an explanatory title of "Learn about Supportive Housing for Our Homeless." Here are the other government officials now scheduled to join Phelps for this discussion: Lt. Michael Lux, City Police; Beth Roalstad, executive director, Homeward Pikes Peak; Kristy Milligan, executive director, Westside Cares; and Lee Patke, executive director, Greecio Housing.
       Vaas clarified that in the chats overall, “we'd like a positive environment, not complaining about the issues, but informing residents to be part of the solution and participation.”
       Explaining his role in the "neighborhood chats" session, Phelps said, “I am happy to continue sharing what I, the Continuum of Care and the city are doing day in and day out in the fight to end homelessness.”
       Asked by the Pioneer if he was willing to field any comments from people concerned about the success of that process, he replied that he was, “as long as the discussions are civil and based in reality.”
       CONO plans other government/neighborhood chats in September and October at locations identified as Eastside, Southside, Central/Downtown and Northside. For more information, call 471-3105 or e-mail information@cscono.org.

Westside Pioneer article
(Community: Neighborhoods)

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