Campers: Agencies help some move on
       Anticipating the cost in servicing several hundred tent-dwelling transients, it would be nice if the “City's homeless price tag: $500K” [Westside Pioneer, Jan. 21] was true. Then that money could be spent to actually give the tent residents a place to live.
       Actually, the $500,000 figure includes the city's monetary assistance to shelters that are keeping people out of the tents, including the Crawford House, the Salvation Army's New Hope Center and Children's Center, the Urban Peak Teen Shelter and Ecumenical Social Ministries (for rental assistance). The figure also includes monetary assistance to agencies whose work might include helping tent dwellers, but it also helps many people avoid living in tents: Marian House Soup Kitchen, Care and Share and Homeward Pikes Peak.
       The New Hope Shelter is not full, but it is a temporary residence and people can only stay there a short time. When their time is up, they have to leave and cannot return for three months or more. People who drank in the last 24 hours cannot stay there.
       In this economy, many can only get part-time work and cannot afford housing. Mentally or physically disabled cannot hold jobs. They apply for Social Security or VA assistance. In the meantime, they have no income or only $200 a month and food stamps. Low-income housing is limited and there are long waiting lists.
       Could the people who are concerned about the problems caused by these several hundred tent-dwellers create a long-term shelter - a place where homeless could return immediately when they are sober and law abiding - where they could get help with financial and mental problems? Could concerned people create a long-term detox-rehab home for those who need to shake addictions?
       Some people want to live in tents. Let them, as long as their tents are not visible from roads, trails, homes or businesses.

Geraldine Kirkmeyer

Editor’s note: Thanks for elaborating on the work these social groups do. But one clarification/update is needed, based on comments by Homeward Pikes Peak Director Bob Holmes at City Council Jan. 25. People are limited to two weeks at the shelter only if they are not making an effort to address their problems or to find a job; otherwise, “they can continue to stay on,” he said. As for the three-month time limit on returning people, he told council he plans to talk to New Hope about being more flexible on that.