In a recent Gazette column, Tim Leigh addressed homelessness in Colorado Springs. He fears "that we're being invaded by an uninvited wash of migrants," and "that the rights of the homeless trample rights of everyone else." He wonders if the problem should be described "not as homelessness, but as an invasion of uninvited migrants" and worries that we are "an attractive community drawing homeless with free services, free food and free housing."
Free services? Yes, you can get a nutritious free lunch at the Marian House. However, if you are sleeping at the Springs Rescue Mission you'll have to walk over 3 miles round trip to enjoy that meal.
Free housing? There are 150 free beds available at the Salvation Army warming shelter. Just bear in mind that those "beds" are comprised of lines painted on a cold concrete floor. But then the purpose of that shelter is not to provide creature comfort. It's there to prevent people from dying of hypothermia.
In fact, the majority of the homeless in Colorado Springs are long-time residents of the area — not migrants. They lived in permanent housing at local addresses well before they became homeless.
The Point in Time Survey reveals that 59 percent of our homeless population are local residents.
The notion that we incentivize homelessness by offering (an imaginary) free and comfortable safety net is laughable to anyone truly familiar with the issue. Being homeless is difficult and unpleasant; there is nothing attractive about it.
Solutions to homelessness are likely to be complex and multifaceted. Denigrating those who are homeless by portraying them as freeloaders and migrants is neither helpful nor accurate. Tim Leigh is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.
— Glenn Shellhouse, Colorado Springs
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