Denver’s homeless folks spend double the price of housing, a report stated

Denver’s annual per capita spending on non-housing is at least twice the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city, a new report finds.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver and the business-focused advocacy Common Sense Institute said Thursday that Denver spends between $ 42,000 and $ 104,000 per person affected by homelessness every year. This total includes city government expenses and homelessness expenses from charities and Denver Health.

Rental apartments estimate the average annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment at around $ 20,000.

This report comes out the day after Denver publishes its five-year plan to combat homelessness. Mike Strott, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Hancock, said the city is not tracking per capita spending on the uninhabited.

The researchers said Denver’s spending range is wide because attempts to count the uninhabited population in the city and metropolitan area are imperfect and, upon the admission of those who do the censuses, are unable to reveal the full extent of the Record homelessness in the region.

Across the Denver subway, per capita spending on the homeless ranged from $ 32,000 to $ 79,000 a year, the report estimates.

The researchers argued that this is an inefficient use of money considering that spending per student in Denver Public Schools was about $ 19,000 in 2019.

“We can get more results and definitely have a bigger impact than we do,” said Mike Zoellner, chairman of the Downtown Denver Partnership and former finance chairman of the Together Denver campaign, which battled efforts to decriminalize homelessness in 2019 with the unsuccessful initiative 300.

Report co-author Brenda Dickhoner, formerly with the Colorado Department of Education, said she believes total non-placement spending is undervalued in the study because city facilities and charitable contributions are difficult to track and categorize.

Dickhoner also said the research intends to focus only on direct services to unhodged people, which means that per-person spending estimates don’t take into account other government spending on unhodged people such as police, firefighters, and parks.

She said she and her co-author didn’t research how much more city governments in the Denver area spend on uninhabited people than they do on people with stable housing.

In a letter accompanying the five-year plan that has just been published, Hancock spoke about the importance of residential stability. His government has in recent weeks defended this year’s increase in raids on homeless camps.

“The goal of all of these steps and our overall strategy is to help as many of our unhoused residents as possible move into an apartment – and stay housed,” Hancock wrote. “When homelessness occurs, we should do everything in our power – as a society, not just as a government – to make it short and unique.”

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