Those canvas rooftops no longer stare us down as we pass over I-25 along Cimarron Street. Police intervention has nudged many of the city's destitute into programs and shelters. In fact, the only place where the homeless still seem an obvious — and somewhat nagging — presence is in shopping centers and commercial areas, where they crowd curbs and street corners with ragged cardboard signs.
"Anything helps." "Proud vet. God bless." "Mom with two kids."
The pleas are ubiquitous. So much so, at this stage of the recession, that they are ineffective, even numbing. And yet, there is a reason why there's so many of them.
The homeless population in Colorado Springs has continued to increase.
According to an annual survey performed in January as a requirement for the U.S. Department of Planning and Urban Development, there are 1,127 homeless people in the county. Since 2006, the count has only been higher in 2009 and 2010.
And the continued pressure of so many people in need is being felt by homeless agencies. Greg Morris, program director for Peak Vista's Homeless Health Center, which provides medical care to the homeless, says he's never seen so many patients as he has recently.
The numbers are below: