Fort Collins Looking for Solutions to Homelessness
Many Americans are just one medical emergency away from homelessness. With childcare rates through the roof and rising housing costs, its no wonder we are struggling. Here’s the thing, housing costs are skyrocketing but people aren’t making more money at work. So what do we do? Well for many Coloradans the only option is homelessness.
Some people have a financial fall back whether it be savings, job opportunities or family support. But for others, that is not the case.
Over the past year, I have become deeply interested in the homeless community and curious about reforming the stereotype homeless people face. Last year, I moved here from Seattle where there are massive tent communities.
I’ve lived all over the U.S. and never have I seen a homeless crisis like Seattle, that was of course until I moved to Colorado. The homelessness in Denver blew my mind, just wow.
Next week I’m moving from Louisville to Loveland. In fact, I applied for this radio job after realizing I couldn’t afford to buy a home in Boulder County, so I started job searching near Loveland. Now that I am finally putting down long-term roots, I am eager to get my hands dirty and invest my time and voice in the homeless community.
According to the Coloradoan, Fort Collins is determined to get their homeless population under control but they are hitting some road blocks.
The city has gone back and forth about building a ‘campus” that would provide housing and rehabilitation services for the homeless, all under the same roof.
A potential “campus” site has been considered off of North College Avenue but North College business owners are not very supportive. I think about that episode of Shameless where Frank breaks into a ‘for sale’ home and turns it into a homeless shelter and the gentrified neighborhood gets upset.
It makes sense that a homeless community, of any kind, would lower the home and business value of whatever block it resides on. It seems City Manager, Darin Atteberry, understands this and has decided to circle back and re-asses the process of potential development.
Atteberry said the city will convene a task force that will include business interests. Residents, service providers and city officials are currently brainstorming and working to find the best solution for homelessness in Fort Collins. Those who provide homelessness services have been quick to remind officials that housing should be the top priority, above rehabilitation services etc.
Holly LeMasurier, director of Homeward 2020, said that a centralized campus for the homeless is a good idea, which has been implemented elsewhere in the country, but It may not be right for Fort Collins.
Although having a safe and secure place for people to spend the day, instead of wandering the streets, would be beneficial for everyone but many are concerned. A campus like this may create an “island” effect and become a so-called “ghetto”.
LeMasurier went on to say that establishing hubs around the city could be a good option. For now however, the city is still playing catch up trying to serve the current homeless population while new policies are negotiated.
All I can say is that my dad has always been really cold toward the homeless and it never felt right to me. I can only imagine that being homeless must be extremely lonely, as people pretend like you don’t exist.
Just keep in mind that there are numerous reasons why someone could end up on the street. You might say, "just go get a job" but it can be difficult to find employment when you are mentally ill, your spirit is broken, you look disheveled or you don't have a contact number. Its important to remember that they are human beings first and homeless people second.