- Homeless potheads were common from Nevada Avenue west to Manitou Springs, way before the area got “upgraded” to the trendy and tourist-friendly “Old Colorado City.” Many American GIs returned from Vietnam with duffel bags full of cannabis and harder stuff, stayed here, had families and built the region’s counterculture, which still exists today with its own robust underground economy. Many of today’s homeless are second- and third-generation “free range settlers.”
- The scene today along Monument Creek can’t compare to the situation in winter 2010-11 (before Colorado approved recreational marijuana): communities of makeshift shacks lining both sides of I-25, entire families struggling to get by in 15-degree weather.
- There is no legally available recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs. Two stores in Manitou offer it, but at prices most homeless can’t afford. Their drugs come from illegal sales or trading prescription meds for cigarettes, alcohol and survival stuff. Bartering sustains the underground economy.
- The local economy has created pressure on the lower end of the housing market, displacing many working poor, elderly and/or disabled residents on fixed incomes.
- City leaders’ “pro-development and damn the consequences” stance has for four decades contributed to problems other than homelessness (fires, floods, traffic, air and water quality, public-space maintenance). Taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck with the entire bill, while armies of volunteers can only provide bandages where transfusions and tourniquets are desperately needed.
— Rev. Gary Glover, Colorado Springs
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