DENVER (CBS4)– Homeless advocacy groups are counting the homeless across the U.S. and in one area of Colorado that population is spiking.
Those homeless in the Denver metro area are not single men but families with children who have been squeezed out of the rapidly rising rental and housing market.
Teresa Beltran waited outside an emergency shelter in Lakewood on Monday night as she guarded her family’s belongings. Beltran is taking care of her two children, her father-in-law and his family. They have been homeless for more than a year.
“It hurts to see my kids… I’m sorry, I just don’t like my kids being in this situation,” said Beltran.
Beltran and nearly a dozen other families stayed in tents overnight in the emergency shelter.
Jen Nagy has been homeless for four months. She has been on a waiting list for housing assistance for a home for herself and two children under the age of six, but it could be a year before help arrives.
“You have no clue how sad things the things we see, it’s scary. But what do you tell them? You can’t tell them anything, ‘We’re working on something, we’ll have a home soon,’” said Nagy.
Homeless advocacy groups said these families are in this position not because of drug or addiction but because rent prices in the Denver metro area are skyrocketing.
“These shelters fill up every night,” said Linda Barringer with the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. “There’s a gentlemen here who told me he slept in a shed last night but even he knows he can’t withstand the weather.”
The federal government provides Colorado more than $16 million to assist the rising problem of homelessness. But Barringer said it’s not enough.
When asked how much more money would make a difference, maybe double, Barringer replied, “Yes, probably more. But double would be a great start.”
Barringer said once a family seeks emergency shelter, they have already been homeless for 15 months and that can be a gateway to other problems.