Today as I was driving home I was at a stop light and noticed the overwhelming smell of urine. I glanced out my window and this scene caught my eye. You can’t live in Denver or the surrounding area without encountering its overwhelmingly large homeless population. It eats at my conscience every time I see them. I want to help, and the only way I know how right this moment is to spread the word and share my images to illustrate the reality of being homeless. I had an uncle who was a troubled soul and lived on the streets for most of his adult life. He passed away last year.
These are people, they aren’t just homeless people, they are actual people. They live and breathe and want the same comforts that we all take for granted far too often. Imagine if this was your son or daughter, an aunt or uncle, your brother, or your best friend from the 3rd grade. We have to stop this disturbing trend of just ignoring everything that is unpleasant or doesn’t fill our immediate needs. Homeless people are not just lowlife bums that don’t care about anything. They are people, and they need help.
Five truths about homelessness:
1. Two out of three of the homeless in Denver are families with children.
2. Forty-two percent are women.
3. Nearly half of the homeless have jobs—just not a home.
4. Most panhandlers aren’t homeless and most of the homeless don’t panhandle.
5. The most common reasons people become homeless are job loss, housing costs, and the break up of a family.
Denver’s Road Home is a comprehensive, integrated plan that blends a “housing first” solution with responsibility, self-reliance and accountability.
A Fiscally Responsible Approach—Denver has been spending over $70 million annually on shelter, health care and other services for the homeless without creating long-term solutions. Denver’s Road Home provides a coordinated, efficient and long-term response that is fiscally responsible and will save taxpayers money.
A Regional Response is Imperative—There have been more than 10,000 homeless people estimated in the metro area, over 55% of these men, women and children live outside the City of Denver. Denver is collaborating with surrounding counties through the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, including Boulder, Douglas, Adams, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Broomfield counties. These seven counties are working to expand affordable housing and shelter beds and to close gaps in services.
Self Reliance—The plan balances the provision of housing, treatment services and job training with expectations of personal responsibility and self-reliance from those who receive the services. It is about creating opportunity and helping people regain control of their lives.