Down and out in Colorado Springs 

Street Smarts

In the parks, in public libraries, holding up signs on high-traffic corners ... the homeless are an increasingly visible presence here. Does something have to give?

click to enlarge Christina Jimenez

Christina Jimenez of Rockrimmon is a UCCS professor

How big a problem is homelessness in Colorado Springs? It's a significant problem that needs to be taken seriously, addressed in a responsible, caring way.

What's one thing that would help? More affordable housing and more help for the homeless with mental illnesses.

Can you envision a future where homelessness isn't a major problem? A focused and intentional Colorado Springs community could come up with some reasonable alternatives.

Have you, or anyone you know, experienced homelessness? Only indirectly. I worked with migrant workers at a homeless shelter while growing up in San Jose.

click to enlarge Jessica McGuire

Jessica McGuire of San Luis is a skin care professional

How bad a problem is homelessness here, as compared to other places you've lived? It wasn't nearly as bad in Charlotte, which is a pretty big city.

Does the presence of homeless people affect your activities downtown? I avoid carrying a lot of cash, just because I know I won't be able to say no to requests for money, which always happens.

Can you envision a future in which homelessness isn't growing? I was in an "ethics prospects" class that discussed the barriers to people having their basic needs met. I'm convinced that barriers to helping the homeless could be removed.

Have you experienced homelessness in any way? I lived in a pregnancy shelter in Charlotte when I was pregnant. It kept me safe and enabled me to keep working and finish school while I lived there.

click to enlarge Jessica McGuire

Shannon McElvaney of Manitou Springs is in software development

Does Colorado Springs have a homelessness problem? The big homeless camp along Monument Creek after the last downturn showed us how bad the problem is. I'm sure those people are still around.

Who should be addressing this problem? We as a society need a mindset like the Marines — don't leave anybody behind, no matter what. Our society leaves people behind.

Can you envision a future without a big homeless problem? I'm an optimist. I believe society can be better than it is.

Have you experienced homelessness, directly or indirectly? As a child, things were very iffy for our family. We got evicted every two years or three years. At one point, we lived in a van for three months. We learned where you could shower.


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