Responses to Caldara on homelessness in Denver
It was hard to believe the one-sided viewpoint in Jon Caldara’s column on the condition of the homeless in our city and the Denver’s Road Home program. He stated clearly the problem but offered no solutions and said that “the more we have to deal with the mess … the more we lose any sympathy we had for the homeless … .”
It should be to the contrary. Caldara infers that we have to deal with these problems of homelessness that government “won’t fix and even makes worse.” He is right that the issues are complex and multi-faceted, but it will take both public and private initiatives to alleviate the problems. Enough money has not been spent in the right places. It is now time to take a deeper look at the issues of mental health, drug and alcohol addiction and practical entry-level jobs.
It will not only take more transitional housing but more teams of counselors who can assess the varied individual problems of the homeless so that they can lead more productive lives. A more human touch is needed.
Luckily it seems the mayor and governor are now working on programs with the private sector to effectuate new solutions for a problem that will always remain complex.
What a relief reading Jon Caldara’s column. Having lived in the Curtis Park/ Five Points neighborhood for the past 36 years, I can say that this problem has never been worse here, substituting our homes and alleys for Caldara’s office building issues.
First, may I remind the policy makers that vowing to “end” homelessness is a catchphrase that is disseminated throughout the country within hours of its pronouncement and will attract countless more to fill the ranks. There is no “end” until it ceases nationwide.
Second, it is a fallacy to use one term to identify a very diverse street community. Many seek assistance to leave the streets and establish a better life, while many have become professional street people uninterested in accepting any personal responsibility for their condition, only to demand total care.
At our most recent tent camp, a sign was set out asking, “Where are we supposed to go?” Isn’t that a question they should be asking themselves while being offered alternatives from the homeless-support community?
Now energized by local law firms (which supply the numerous video cameras and recordings to find grounds for ongoing “harassment”), many have become professionalized through legal prepping. We all want to help the homeless, but many don’t want assistance — they want total, one-sided care.
Jon Caldara recognizes that homelessness is a “very complex, multi-faceted and difficult issue” and goes on to offer his “simple reality-based observation.” Most anyone who lives or works in downtown Denver can offer that. However, a person in his position has access to and probably has read some thoughtful commentary on homelessness. If ever there was an issue that requires all hands on deck, this is one, but Caldara does not offer any constructive thoughts about homelessness. Instead, his piece was just about saying “no” to the reality-based policies and initiatives of others.
A man sits with his belongings while Denver officials clear homeless camps on Lawrence Street near Samaritan House on Nov. 15. RJ Sangosti, Post file