Housing First Alliance working on new direction as Wood steps back from executive director role
The effort to bring a homeless shelter to Craig is not over, but it’s undergoing significant changes.
Hannah Wood, who had served as the executive director of the Alliance since its inception, stepped down from the role last week, electing to remain on the board of directors while creating space for someone she says would be more well-suited for the role.
Meanwhile, the $690,000 grant that had been secured from the state will be relinquished, along with the partnership with Grand Junction-based group Homeward Bound, through which the grant was being administered.
“Future funding will be investigated and applied for when the timing is right,” a letter from the Alliance board reads. “We are in the process of working to create and implement a solid strategic plan, and once that is in place, we will move forward with this project.”
The grant from the state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) had been a sticking point for the community, as it required the shelter — originally billed as for locals only and for families only — to be more inclusive, potentially of individuals and of folks from outside of Moffat County. That fueled concerns from the community that homelessness in the region would be actually increased by the presence of a shelter, something the Alliance disputed but ultimately couldn’t guarantee.
“Homelessness is and continues to be a community problem,” the letter read. “And it is our intent to create a community solution — a solution that offers safety and healthier options to our neighbors and integrity for all involved. We thank those of you who have and will continue to support our efforts and will keep you updated on our plans moving forward.”
Board member Trish Snyder said that the plan is to hire a new executive director, but that the first priority is for the board to determine that strategic plan. The new director will be the next step.
Wood expressed a bittersweet sentiment about resigning her position, but was hopeful for the future of the project and was looking forward to continuing with the effort.
“We’ve been really taking all of the feedback and criticism to heart,” Wood said. “We really listened to people. We want to serve the community that needs it, but people here had a lot to say, and we listened. Instead of building our own facility, we’ll start small, maybe rent a few rooms at an existing hotel — give them some business while serving a few people as well.”
The Alliance had at one point eyed the old Furniture Gallery building on Ranney Street, but a deal did not come to fruition. The building has since been purchased by an Independent Baptist Church.
The struggle to find a physical location for the shelter was paralleled with the struggle to secure community acceptance of the project. While many agreed it was a worthy cause, even among that group were loud voices of concern that the particular arrangement for the shelter was unlikely to work in the community’s larger interests.
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On a summer morning in southern Idaho, the day breaks early, before 6 a.m. The air is stale, never fully cooled from the heat of the day before.