Has Colorado tried this for the homeless?
Colorado has a growing homeless population, as many without homes are moving to our state. But the nights are too cold to sleep outside.
Have you ever thought about why homeless people carry so much stuff around with them, sometimes in shopping carts, grocery bags or garbage bags? They have nowhere to safely store their things. This inconvenient aspect of homeless living must be very stressful for those who live on the streets.
If you were homeless and without a vehicle, where would you keep all your clothing, toiletries, food, documents, letters, family photos and toys? Without a home or a car I’d be in deep trouble because I tend to travel with too much stuff — more than I could carry by myself. I’d have to have a pack mule or llama while I searched for work, schooling or a place to live.
According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the local government of Costa Mesa tried to rid its city of the homeless population by not sheltering them, hoping they’d just go away. But then several homeless people died in the cold it struck the consciences of the local leaders. They took a brilliant approach to the problem and created storage area of lockers so the homeless had a secure place to store their belongings.
Then the people were free to get an education and go to job interviews without having to worry about having their stuff stolen. Can you imagine going to job interview carrying all your stuff? I can just see myself arriving at an upscale corporation carrying my sleeping bag and pots and pans banging together. The storage lockers in Costa Mesa are helping people get back to work or into school.
I am wondering if the Denver metropolitan area and suburbs such as Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Golden and Lakewood could set up storage areas for homeless people and put literature about jobs, education opportunities, and service groups which help people get clothing for job interviews posted near the lockers.
Supposedly the economy is picking up again in Colorado so maybe there is hope for the homeless to get schooling or work to make a better lives for themselves than living on the streets in desperation.
We who run the local cities must take care of the homeless in our society if we are to call ourselves civilized. We can’t just drive them out like refugees to become some other city’s problem. We need to encourage members of our own community, the homeless to make a better life for themselves.
At least that’s my opinion.
Mary McFerren Stobie grew up in Golden and lives in Wheat Ridge. She is a storyteller, and has had columns published in the Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post and Chicago Tribune. Please contact her with comments at mry_jeanne@yahoo.