Homelessness Surge in Colorado

Over half a million people are homeless.

Payton Tanner

Over half a million people are homeless.

Payton Tanner, Staff Writer

Student homelessness is often overlooked by teens because they may feel as though it is not an issue that affects their area. However, according to Colorado’s Department of Education, Denver, alone, has a total of approximately 1,849 homeless students. School districts throughout Colorado have programs to assist students facing homelessness, but many of these students are unaware, or unwilling, to receive the help from these programs. 

“A lot of kids don’t come and report that they’re in a homeless situation because of family issues, or jobs, or divorce, or worse, so they’re just struggling away on their own,” Dakota Ridge High School counselor Nile Smith said. 

Community and Family Connections is a program set up by Jeffco Public Schools District to assist students whose living conditions are uncertain or irregular. On the Jeffco Public Schools website, parents, school staff, or community members can refer a student to the Community and Family Connections program. 

Food donation box for the homeless at St. Jude Catholic Community of Lakewood. (Payton Tanner)

Denver has drastically increased the amount of encampment clearances they have conducted in 2021 compared to 2020. Encampments are temporary places where large groups of homeless people are living in tents.

“People that work for the city come and clear them out, usually taking their stuff and throwing it away if they don’t clear out fast enough,” Denver South High School Student Araceli Siedschlag (11) said.  

According to the Metro Denver Regional Report of 2021, there are approximately 5,530 people in homeless shelters. Of that population, there are 418 veterans, 1,548 families, and 180 unaccompanied youth. A majority of these people are in emergency shelters. 

The Colorado Newsline states that the number of homeless people from 2020 to 2021 has almost doubled due to the devastating effects that COVID-19 has had on Coloradans and the instability it has created. 

As stated by 9 News, the City of Denver is on the search to hire six people to be a part of a new Street Enforcement Team. This Street Enforcement Team will be given the power to issue citations to people disobeying city ordinances, including camping on the city streets.

In 2021 there are approximately 34,210 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness nationwide, and among them, approximately half are in shelters, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness. 

One quarter of homeless people are children. (Payton Tanner)

Throughout the nation there are shelters and programs set up in an attempt to help the homeless. Some of the many national shelters include the National Alliance to End Homelessness, The Salvation Army and Feeding America. 

In Colorado there are also a large number of shelters trying to help the homeless. People understand that these are critical times.  Among them are groups including Samaritan House Homeless Shelter, Urban Peak Shelter, Family Promise of Greater Denver, and many others.  

Many teens around the country don’t know where they will stay the night, or if they will have to sleep on the streets. Unforeseen events can lead a person to homelessness in an instant.

 “People in the city and outside of it have so many different opinions of homelessness and the homeless people,” junior Siedschlag said, “but I think people need to remember that they are human too.”