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Colorado Experience | Living Unhoused Parts 1 & 2

Once known solely for its military presence and mega-churches, Colorado Springs has seen a shift in the last decade. Major media outlets have ranked it a top destination for living and visiting, as well as a slightly cheaper alternative to Denver, offering closer outdoor access and a tighter-knit community feel.  

But as more people have flocked to Colorado Springs, its housing stock has dwindled, simultaneously driving prices up and leaving many without a home. 

El Paso County’s 2022 point-in-time count, which measures the number of people experiencing homelessness in the county, found 1,443 people live in shelters, on the streets, in a car between other unstable housing situations, such as couch-surfing.   

The city has responded primarily with an emphasis on law enforcement and criminalization of those living on the streets.  “It’s a public safety issue,” Mayor Yemi Mobolade told Rocky Mountain PBS. “The pastor in me will care for our homeless residents with great compassion. The parent in me is very concerned about the public safety reality.” 

Rocky Mountain PBS interviewed 36 houseless residents in Colorado Springs. When asked what their biggest problem was, each answered the same: interactions with the police department’s homeless outreach team. The team is tasked with citing unhoused people for violating the city’s camping ban, littering and other misdemeanor crimes. For most who receive citations, the revolving door of court appearances and unpaid citations can dig one further into a hole of poverty that feels inescapable.

We also looked at the city's nonprofit and private sectors. We explore the city's largest shelter —  Springs Rescue Mission and how the folks they serve respond to their Christian programming. We also look at barriers to accessing housing and the process of escaping homelessness.

The first episode premiered Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. and the second episode premiered on Oct. 5. You can watch both episodes below.

 

Colorado Experience | Living Unhoused, Part 1
Colorado Experience | Living Unhoused, Part 2

Learn more about the unhoused community in Colorado Springs

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