The number one cause of death among Denver’s homeless population is not exposure to the elements but is overwhelmingly due to drug overdoses.

Nearly 250 homeless persons have died in Denver so far this year, 161 from drug overdoses, and seven from environmental exposure, according to the Denver Medical Examiner’s office.

Combined with alcohol, that’s 70% of all deaths and already 10% higher than last year, reports KDVR.

While Denver Mayor Johnston is rushing to fullfill his campaign bumper sticker pledge to get 1,000 heads on indoor beds by New Year’s Eve, we’d like to point out there are currently 118 addiction recovery beds available that could save lives.

Meghan Shay, executive director of STEP, told KDVR there are six sober living homes in the metro area that serve about 400 men a year.

“It’s heartbreaking and crushing because you know the potential of these people,” Shay said. “We know they have something to offer this world if they could get their addiction into remission.”


But Johnston’s homelessness plan does not prioritize addiction recovery before housing like Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman’s strategy.

Considering the rate of drug-related deaths over housing related deaths, perhaps Johnston should rethink his plan and put people first before campaign pledges.