June 26, 2014

This is one of those “has nothing to do with matchmaking but I still want to share ” things.

It is 3:30pm and I was heading to my downtown office. I am waiting at the light at I25 and Bijou. There is a homeless man. The first person in the left hand lane gave him a pack of cigarettes. The second person gave him a bottle of water.
I park in the lot on the corner of Tejon and Pikes Peak. I go to 7-11 on the corner of Pikes Peak and Tejon and count 17 apparently homeless people, mostly men, just hanging out. Several of them hanging out with no shirts on, and their pants practically falling off.

I work in the Rutledge building on the corner of Tejon and Kiowa. There is a fellow there almost every day who lines up 20 of his original drawings to sell. He sits and draws in the shade and sells his pictures. Do you think he leases that space, pays taxes on that space, has a license to sell on that space? There can be as many as eight men sitting with him and it is like walking through the gauntlet to get to my office.

I have empathy for the homeless. I am not political and I have no agenda other than the fact that I have had my business downtown in the beautiful Rutledge building for eight years and here is what I see happening:

1) From Pikes Peak to Platte, downtown is infested with homeless people. So much more so than even two years ago. Two police officers walking around hasn’t changed anything.
2) They seem to be enjoying themselves. It is almost like a party atmosphere, playing instruments, singing, etc.
3) They ask for money nonstop. I always smile and say “sorry” and they quit asking me but I had a perspective client come in the other day and she was unnerved by how many people asked her for money.
4) Businesses are moving from downtown. We have lost Johannes Hunter, Kirk and Hill is leaving and both of those businesses have said in was in great part because of the homeless people downtown.
5) The trash and cigarette butts are back as soon as they are cleaned up.
6) Loud and frequent arguments are not uncommon.

What is it going to take to change this? How many more businesses will leave downtown Colorado Springs before someone takes this seriously?
In today’s Gazette councilwoman Helen Collins is quoted as saying “A lot of the homeless, the best way to get rid of the homeless is to give them a bus ticket back to their families.”
According to the Gazette, “Offering bus tickets to homeless individuals seeking a ride home is nothing new in Colorado Springs. Ecumenical Social Ministries, for example, set aside $4000 this year for tickets, though demand far outpaces the budget.”

I say let’s get more money in that budget, or create another budget, and give the homeless people tickets back to their families.
Nothing else is working and in Colorado Springs the homeless people have taken over the heart of downtown.

To be continued………………