About The Homeless

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms made of the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”
Herman Melville

Hearing from the Homeless Video

“Video presented by permission and originally screened at Lifetree Cafe.  Visit www.lifetreecafe.com

Voices From The Street

“I am homeless. My hope is to hike to Florida …since I am unable to find a job here in Denver which is where I am located now. I figure I will head out to the mountains . Denver is a drag for sure. Especially being a DAD! I am working on a book about this seemingly never ending nightmare of being outdoors 24/7.” Nico

“I think people would prefer that we were invisible” Martin

During one of our street outreach distributions a young man came up, saw our bin of socks and asked if he could take a pair.  Upon receiving them, he immediately sat down and pulled off his well worn tennis shoes to reveal a pair of socks that were more holes than material.  As he put on the new socks, I asked him if there was anything else he needed as we had a number of different items.  He gave me a smile, said “Thank You, but these socks are all I really need today.”

At a recent distribution an older man approached and asked about a tarp.  He told me his old tent had begun leaking quite badly with all the rain of late, but after looking over the tarps that we had he left without taking one.  Toward the end of the distribution, he approached again and began looking over the remaining tarps.  I asked him if he had changed his mind.  He said no he still needed a tarp badly, but wanted to wait until the end in case someone needed it more.

A homeless man made a plaque for me which said  “It doesn’t matter where you are in the giving circle; helping and being helped are part of the same energy.  There is no shame in giving or receiving; in having or not having.”

Is Homelessness a problem in Colorado?

On Monday night, January 29th, 2007 there were an estimated 15,394 homeless men, women, and children in Colorado.

Colorado Statewide Homeless Count, January 2007

On the evening of January 29th, 2007 the Colorado Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (CICH), along with hundreds of volunteers from all 64 Colorado counties, conducted the Colorado Statewide Homeless Count, January 2007, “a point-in-time” study of homeless persons in Colorado.

CICH defines homelessness as follows:  An individual is considered homeless if he or she is:

  • Sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, or abandoned or condemned buildings.
  • Spending the night in an emergency shelter
  • Spending a short time (30 consecutive days or less) in a hospital or other institution, but ordinarily sleeping in the types of places mentioned above
  • Living in transitional/supportive housing but having come from streets or emergency shelters
  • Staying temporarily with family or friends while looking for a permanent place to live
  • Staying temporarily in a hotel/motel paid for by other/vouchers and/or while looking for shelter or housing
  • Being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks needed to obtain access to housing
  • Being discharged from an institution and having no subsequent residence identified and lacking the resources and support networks needed to obtain access to housing

Colorado’s poverty rate has risen steadily since the late 1990’s, according to recent U.S. Census data.  In 1998, Colorado’s poverty rate was 8.5 percent; by 2005, the poverty rate had increased to 10.4 percent.   The increase in interest rates (which has sent foreclosure rates in the state to an all-time high), the lack of both new and existing affordable housing, rising energy and fuel costs, high home/rent costs, and either flat or declining wages create severe cost burdens for many of Colorado’s households.

Is Homelessness a problem in the US?

In the United States, approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.  The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past ten years, and is one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.

Is Homelessness A Problem In Fort Collins?

Based on a Point In Time Survey conducted by Homeward 2020, on Tuesday night, March 9, 2010, there were an estimated 518 homeless men, women and children, and 617 persons at risk of homelessness in Fort Collins, Colorado.   Roughly 62% were men and 38% were women

Very Young Children (0-5) 9.5
School Age Children (6-12) 9.5
Teens (13-17) 4.9
Young Adults (18-24) 16.8
Adults (25-64) 58.4
Seniors (65 and over) 0.9
TOTAL 100.0


  • 1 in 10 are very young  children
  • Nearly 25% are children under 18
  • 13% are Veterans
  • 27% are in Foster Care
  • 54% had recently visited an Emergency Room

Reasons for Homelessness

  • 43% Lost Job or Can’t Find Job
  • 22% Can’t Find Affordable Housing
  • 19% Breakup in Family
  • 18.2% Mental Illness
  • 13% Abuse in Home
  • 12% Medical Issue
  • 11% Substance Abuse
  • 11% Discharge From Jail

Newly Homeless: (homeless less than one year and first episode of homelessness)

  • One quarter of all homeless persons were newly homeless (homeless less than one year and first episode of homelessness)
  • The proportion of newly homeless persons has grown since 2007 (compare 24.6% to 16.9%)
  • The majority of newly homeless persons  (64.2%) are in households with children
  • Single parent families comprise nearly half (46.3%)

Chronically Homeless:

  • The Chronically Homeless represent 11% and the Episodically Homeless represent 89%.
  • 90.3% of the Chronically Homeless are men.
  • Chronic homelessness is, by far, the most expensive form of homelessness.  The chronic homeless are 10% of the homeless population nationally but use 50% of the service dollars for the entire homeless population.  This is in addition to the disproportionate medical, emergency, inpatient hospitalizations, and substance detoxification.  In summary, the cost of putting the chronically homeless in stable permanent housing is the highest among the homeless population but so is the cost of letting the chronically homeless stay on the street.


Based on the Colorado Statewide Homeless Count in 2007, homeless families are overwhelmingly represented in Larimer County.  Similar to other statewide trends, almost 60% of the homeless in Larimer County are families and over a quarter of the homeless population reports not having access to shelter.

Number of Homeless “Households” with Children 322            58.9%

Number of Homeless “Households” without Children 225       41.1%


Increase in Poverty Rate Since 2000
Larimer County United States Colorado
36.5% 6.5% 26.1%


  • 1 in 10 Ft Collins households earned less than $10,000 and one quarter earned less than $25,000
  • 10% of Ft Collins families with children were living below poverty level
  • Nearly 30% of single female parents are living below poverty level
  • Between 1998 & 2007, the number of Larimer County homes in foreclosure increased by 502 percent!
  • 1 in 10 homeless persons in Fort Collins are very young children.
  • Nearly 25% of all homeless in Fort Collins are children under 18!
  • The majority of newly homeless persons  (64.2%) are in households with children
  • Single parent families (newly homeless) comprise nearly half (46.3%)
  • Poudre School District McKinney-Vento Student Data shows that the number of homeless students has increased every year from school year 2006/07 to 2010/11.
  • There was a cumulative total of 1,021 students identified as being homeless in the Poudre School District during the school year 2010-2011.

Homeless Youth:

According to the National Runaway Switchboard:

  • 1.6 to 2.8 million youth run away each year.
  • 80% of runaway and homeless girls report having been sexually or physically abused.
  • One-third of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide.
  • More than half of youth in shelter and on the streets report that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn’t care.
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