What some people wish we all knew about homelessness: “Not all the people who are homeless are vandals and criminals. A lot of us just had a hard time, and we went through some stuff, and we lost …
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This story is part of Colorado Community Media's third and final installment in a series, “No Place to Call Home,” which explores the reasons behind the rise in homelessness in Englewood and the response from various segments of the community.
To read more on how school districts, churches and city governments are responding — and to see the first two installments of the series — click here.
What some people wish we all knew about homelessness:
“Not all the people who are homeless are vandals and criminals. A lot of us just had a hard time, and we went through some stuff, and we lost what we lost and we need help getting back up on our feet. Don’t ignore us; help us. Give us more resources, give us a place to go, and you’ll see this whole thing stop.”
— Robert Balukas, formerly homeless man, Change the Trend Network advocate
“We have to deal with the elements. Mother nature … We love that they feed us and all that, but a living quarters is mandatory. That’s all any of us ask. We’re not all drug addicts. Talk to us. A lot of us are very educated.”
— Terry Johnson, south metro-area man experiencing homelessness
“In our difficult housing market, most people know someone who has experienced homelessness or who is at risk of housing instability. While we don’t keep specific statistics on this, some of the reasons you may hear in your community are sudden illness and/or excessive medical bills, few opportunities for advancement even in a steady job, change in relationship status or family crisis.”
— Keith Singer, shelter director, Family Tree House of Hope
“The human element of it. And the fact that a lot of them are native. I think everyone assumes they come from everywhere but here … a fair percentage do, are born and raised here and get priced out of some of these markets … (Keep in mind) mental health and substance abuse struggles and what it takes to be successful over that.”
— Joe Jefferson, Englewood municipal judge and former mayor
“I wish they saw them as individual people rather than a group. It’s unfortunate that they’re categorized by their living situation rather than the story behind their homelessness … There are so many underlying reasons why they are where they are.”
— Donna Zimmerman, director of Giving Heart homeless-services center
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