Amanda McGuire walked up to collect her belongings from a shed in Englewood one day in April. She and her partner had been living in the shed on South Washington Street with, she said, permission …
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Colorado Community Media's ongoing series, “No Place to Call Home,” explores the reasons behind the rise in homelessness in Englewood and the response from various parts of the community, from businesses and city government to nonprofits, the faith community and schools.
For part 1 and the rest of part 2 of the series, which explores the relationship between the homeless, law enforcement and other public institutions, click here.
Amanda McGuire walked up to collect her belongings from a shed in Englewood one day in April.
She and her partner had been living in the shed on South Washington Street with, she said, permission from residents on the property. But police issued her a court summons for trespassing and, now, she had to leave.
“It’s just ticket after ticket after ticket,” said McGuire, 40, who has been homeless for most of the past year.
Englewood police have contacted her several times in that year, sometimes as a witness or to check her well-being, but also for an open liquor container in public, according to police records.
MORE: Englewood judge tries to keep the human element in mind
McGuire returned to the shed that day to retrieve her medication and walker. She and her partner, 40-year-old Nick Leewaye, still have belongings there, McGuire said in late June.
“They won’t let us have it … his birth certificate, our clothes,” McGuire said. “I have medical paperwork, and my Social Security card is in there.”
Englewood police declined to comment on the situation or whether officers tried to return the belongings, saying that the house is related to an active criminal case in the 18th Judicial District.
McGuire’s journey through homelessness goes back decades.
Born at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, she graduated from Columbine High School in south Jefferson County in 1996. When she was 20, she said she sustained brain, spinal and pelvic injuries in a motorcycle accident. Then a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, she had to stop attending school and stop working.
In 1999, she began sleeping in stairwells, and a heroin-use problem pushed her into rehab in 2003, she said.
MORE: Swedish Medical Center sees a slight increase in homeless patients
After living with family, she moved back to Denver, eventually living in apartments and rooms in Littleton that included the Essex House Motel along South Santa Fe Drive in 2013. She began living in her car in June 2017, but police impounded it six months later for lacking registration.
“I couldn’t afford it,” said McGuire, who began renting a room from a woman in Parker in the fall. “I was spending all my money on rent — $800 for a bedroom.”
When McGuire had a seizure in the doorway on Dec. 2, the Parker woman decided she didn’t want her there anymore, McGuire said.
And once her car was confiscated, she could no longer get herself to her job at a brick company in Castle Rock.
A friend then brought her to Giving Heart, a homeless-services center at 4358 S. Broadway in Englewood.
She met her partner, Leewaye, at a bus stop two blocks south. A woman nearby told them they could stay on her property — a different one from the property with the shed — but a neighbor called police June 26 and said they were over the property line, McGuire said.
“Police tell us to leave Englewood all the time — where are we gonna go?” McGuire said. “There’s nowhere to go.”
Lottery systems at shelters in Denver allow homeless individuals space to stay. But McGuire said she doesn’t want to risk being sheltered apart from Leewaye, who takes care of her.
“We’re homeless, but we try to help the community,” Leewaye said.
Along with two of their friends, they pick up trash and needles off the street, McGuire said.
She lamented being ticketed for offenses like open alcohol containers and trespassing in such places as alleys.
The depression that comes with homelessness is harsh, Leewaye said, and “we’re just trying to make it.”
“Every time they give us a ticket,” McGuire said, “it’s one step back.”
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