Thanksgiving dinner with friends was wonderful – laughter, great food, and a wide-ranging discussion.
During the course of the evening, the topics became more deep and difficult. Like homelessness. That problem is growing all over the country. But in our metro area, the growth of the homeless people now seems particularly striking.
We know the issues. We know why it is so difficult to construct housing that A). is affordable for those who literally have nothing but who with housing can get back in the world, B). that construction in the Denver metro area is pitched toward luxury housing because it makes the money “work” for developers (hey, I get it), and C). there are so many aspects of this issue that are not just about housing.
One person at the table reminded us that under Ronald Reagan’s administration, mental hospitals were shut down, sending residents to a dicey future. Wars have not helped, with soldiers left with injuries we cannot see. And through redevelopment, once-stable neighborhoods have been gentrified – and upscaled – so that long-time residents now have to figure out where to go.
The six of us at the table did not have any answers in particular; we’re not experts. And although government officials and non-profit organizations seem to be trying to find an answer, it is so tough. In the meantime, people sleep on sidewalks in tents, then get shooed away to… wherever? This is true in my neighborhood and downtown Denver, and in other neighborhoods that have never seen anything like this before.
Below are some links that address this quandary. Some of these stories offer hope, although a story on the “eleventh hour” decision by the city of Denver to not allow a tiny home village near the Platte River because of floodplain issues – well, that one hurts. During the “season of giving,” and the drumbeat of buy, buy, buy, this issue is a reminder that for many of us, something devastating can just be a heartbeat away. The photo above is on the Westword story below.