Mayor Johnston’s dirty little secret to making micro communities of garden shack-sized shelters palatable for the homeless was outed this week in a Denver Post editorial.
Johnston estimates between 85% and 90% of the unhoused people on Denver’s streets would accept services and housing … into a ready-built community that does not require sobriety or employment.
The Post would have Denverites believe these ready-built encampments in which Johnston expects to shelter thousands of drug addicts and mentally ill are really just some veterans down on their luck.
That was the anecdotal example used by the Post editorial board in lecturing residents who don’t want homeless drug addicts and mentally unstable folks living next door to their families.
But according to the VA, veterans experiencing homelessness is down 11% since the pandemic. The point-in-time count last year revealed 13,564 veterans nationwide out of 582,000 total homeless folks living on the streets.
Denverites must give Johnston’s plan a chance and “feel good” about it because his is an ambitious plan to end homelessness in his first term, the editorial board demanded.
And yet just a few paragraphs later, the Post grudgingly admits it can’t be done.
We are never going to solve homelessness — especially not in the current economy full of low-wage jobs, soaring inflation, and housing costs exceeding even the incomes of upper-middle class families.
This risky exercise to consolidate homeless encampments and cram two to four people into each shack forming 11 communities of thousands of unstable humans is a risky social experiment that will cost taxpayers millions.
It would all be worth the cost and effort if the result were a true path to mental stability, drug-free living, and permanent housing, and jobs.
And yet what the plan proposes is the establishment of new social spending programs to fund an NGO bureaucracy that will cycle a never-ending stream of folks who don’t want to live drug free, or work, or function in society through a futile system of enablement.
That’s why Denverites and their neighbors don’t “feel good” about Johnston’s plan.
The proposed space for one of the communities is in the southeast region of Denver, very close to the Arapahoe County line.
Many Arapahoe County residents are concerned with how close the site is to their homes and businesses.
“We’re not the ones that voted for the mayor, and we don’t feel like we have a say. We understand we need to solve this problem, we do. This is just not the right location,” Janet Cornell said to Denver 7.