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Community Leader Group tackles housing, mental health in Grand

The Grand County Rural Health Network helped put on the You Are Not Alone Hike on Sept. 12 at Snow Mountain Ranch with input from their Community Leader Group. The Leader Group meets monthly to discuss housing and mental health issues in Grand and is welcoming new members.
McKenna Harford/Sky-Hi News

Over a year ago, a group led by the Grand County Rural Health network started having discussions about what it would take to form a regional housing authority in Grand County.

The Community Leader Group meets once a month to address issues facing Grand County — mainly housing and mental health. The group was established in 2020 and held an affordable housing forum with local and statewide partners in March of last year.

In summer 2021, the group brainstormed solutions to the affordable housing crisis and identified a multi-jurisdictional housing authority as a top priority to enable the implementation of future housing solutions.



At the group’s Jan. 20 meeting, Granby Trustee Chris Michalowski spoke about Granby’s housing efforts with the group of community leaders, a dozen or so people from all sorts of backgrounds with a passion for the community.

During his talk, he mentioned that the town was joining Fraser and Winter Park’s efforts to establish a regional housing authority.



“Huge win, you guys,” Rural Health Network Executive Director Jen Fanning said later. “Look at the power this group has. If we can do that, we have some movement.”

Along with the update on the regional housing authority, Michalowski shared the design-in-progress for Granby’s 250-unit attainable housing project off of US Highway 40. He answered a variety of questions from the leaders, like how the project would be deed restricted and when work would get started.

After Michalowski’s talk, the group pivoted to mental health. Fanning discussed the recent Colorado News Collaborative reporting on Mind Springs Health and the state’s mental health care system in general.

With experience sitting on the state’s mental health task force for a year, Fanning explained that the rules and regulations regarding mental health treatment are horribly complex, and that the state is work to identify systems that need to change to make therapy more accessible.

Group members also discussed the intersection between unstable housing and mental health, including the toll that can have on their children, and how the inaccessibility of mental health care can make the problem feel insurmountable.

Along with being a space to talk through these struggles, the group was able to exchange mental health resources and support.

“That is part of what this group is designed to be,” Rural Health Network Associate Director Amanda Uehlein said. “Both advocacy and support and community.”

The group meets from 6-8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month to work on these issues, along with highlighting advocacy opportunities. All are welcome to the meetings, with access information available at https://gcruralhealth.org/take-action/community-leader-group/.

Folks who qualify financially can be paid $50 per meeting with childcare and interpretation services available for the meeting upon request.Over a year ago, a group led by the Grand County Rural Health network started having discussions about what it would take to form a regional housing authority in Grand County.

The Community Leader Group meets once a month to address issues facing Grand County — mainly housing and mental health. The group was established in 2020 and held an affordable housing forum with local and statewide partners in March of last year.

In summer 2021, the group brainstormed solutions to the affordable housing crisis and identified a multi-jurisdictional housing authority as a top priority to enable the implementation of future housing solutions.

At the group’s Jan. 20 meeting, Granby Trustee Chris Michalowski spoke about Granby’s housing efforts with the group of community leaders, a dozen or so people from all sorts of backgrounds with a passion for the community.

During his talk, he mentioned that the town was joining Fraser and Winter Park’s efforts to establish a regional housing authority.

“Huge win, you guys,” Rural Health Network Executive Director Jen Fanning said later. “Look at the power this group has. If we can do that, we have some movement.”

Along with the update on the regional housing authority, Michalowski shared the design-in-progress for Granby’s 250-unit attainable housing project off of US Highway 40. He answered a variety of questions from the leaders, like how the project would be deed restricted and when work would get started.

After Michalowski’s talk, the group pivoted to mental health. Fanning discussed the recent Colorado News Collaborative reporting on Mind Springs Health and the state’s mental health care system in general.

With experience sitting on the state’s mental health task force for a year, Fanning explained that the rules and regulations regarding mental health treatment are horribly complex, and that the state is working to identify systems that need to change to make therapy more accessible.

Group members also discussed the intersection between unstable housing and mental health, including the toll that can have on their children, and how the inaccessibility of mental health care can make the problem feel insurmountable.

Along with being a space to talk through these struggles, the group was able to exchange mental health resources and support.

“That is part of what this group is designed to be,” Rural Health Network Associate Director Amanda Uehlein said. “Both advocacy and support and community.”

The group meets from 6-8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month to work on these issues, along with highlighting advocacy opportunities. All are welcome to the meetings, with access information available at https://gcruralhealth.org/take-action/community-leader-group/.

Folks who qualify financially can be paid $50 per meeting with childcare and interpretation services available for the meeting upon request.


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