The Colorado Springs Homeless Crisis: It Can Be Helped

A+homeless+man+carries+a+sign+depicting%2C+%22Anything+Helps%22+in+hope+of+drawing+the+generosity+of+a+passerby.+Photo+labeled+for+reuse+by+Steve+Knutson+on+Unsplash.com

A homeless man carries a sign depicting, "Anything Helps" in hope of drawing the generosity of a passerby. Photo labeled for reuse by Steve Knutson on Unsplash.com

With temperatures reaching well below the negatives this winter season, the streets are no place to be. However, Colorado Springs’ homeless condition is still distressing, and too many people have found themselves with no place to go in this freezing city.

Laws addressing the homeless condition have never been principled, but they have worsened with recent amendments.

In July 2018, the City Council approved a ban on camping within 100 feet of city waterways and concrete drainage canals. 

Shortly after, the city approved another law banning recreational vehicles from parking on any public rights-of-way. The first offense warrants a $25 fine; second offense results in $100; the third offense, $125, and four tickets means a court summon.

These laws are incredibly unjust, as their purpose is to limit the resources that can be used to survive on the streets in order to increase shelter utilization.

Homeless shelters are an effort that house hundreds of people in poverty and rescue them from the streets. They  certainly are very important and appreciated, but many have restrictions against youth, elderly citizens, and LGBTQ+ people. Laws that ban impoverished people from the streets with no other resources are laws that need to be reprimanded.

Another example of a hurtful effort is the recent anti-panhandling campaigns. The city traffic department placed several signs around the city with the phrase, “Handouts Don’t Help,” followed by a phone number that can be used to text donations to the Colorado Springs service organization, HelpCOS.

Although this movement is helpful for spreading awareness about Colorado Springs’ resources and more ways to support the cause, panhandling is sometimes a necessity and restricting it pushes homeless further into poverty.

In January 2018, the annual volunteer count showed the total number of people experiencing homelessness in our community to be 1,551, an increase of 9.6% since 2017.  513 of those people were living outside at that time. 

This number has been slowly increasing since 2017, and with the amount of unawareness in Colorado Springs, these laws generally do more hurt than help.

There are other ways to advocate for the homeless situation in Colorado Springs.

The Right to Rest Act is a proposal for a bill on Colorado Law that establishes basic rights for people experiencing homelessness, including the right to rest in public areas, to shelter themselves from the elements and sleep in or occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to accept food and other necessities given to them by passerbys.

This bill also allows people whose rights have been violated to seek enforcement in a civil action.

Although this bill was voted down 10-3 by the State House of Representatives and has been voted down for years in the past, this bill is the first big step in reducing homelessness. 

The Homeless Cause can also be improved with donations to shelters such as the Springs Rescue Mission, but Handouts do Help, and changing the unfair laws against homelessness in Colorado Springs is a cause that will hopefully improve the situation for those living in poverty. 

Donate to The Springs Rescue Mission here:

https://donate.springsrescuemission.org/donate

Donate to the Marian House Soup Kitchen here:

https://www.ccharitiescc.org/donate/