Denver has spent nearly $2 billion on its homeless problem over the last three years, a new study shows.
Over the last three years, Colorado has spent nearly $2 billion on homelessness, mostly in the Denver metro area, according to the annual study from the Common Sense Institute.
More than $1.9 billion was set aside for homelessness spending, which comes to about $30,000 to $60,000 per person, the study found.
Meanwhile, the homeless population in Denver is ballooning.
The number of homeless people in the Denver metro area has risen 58% from 5,728 in 2016 to 9,065 in 2023, a rise of about 58%, the study found.
Denver now ranks tenth in the nation for the highest number of homeless people, according to the study.
“It’s a public policy challenge that dominated the election season and generated conversations in neighborhoods across the state. And, rightfully so, this is an issue that pulls at our heartstrings and challenges our compassion,” Kelly Caufield, executive director at the Common Sense Institute said in a statement.
In July when Denver Mayor Mike Johnston took office he declared a state of emergency on homelessness and promised to house 1,000 homeless people by the end of the year.
Last month, Denver police investigated allegations of a “pop-up bar” selling alcohol at a homeless encampment in the city, along with complaints about tents being rented out for prostitution.
Photos of the “pop-up bar” showed dozens of liquor bottles displayed on shelves along with a cooler, cushioned chairs, a chaise lounge, couches, tents, and astroturf flooring. Large umbrellas provided shade, and dozens of empty liquor bottles were reportedly visible as well.
Police also investigated complaints about tents and couches being rented out for prostitution.
Other large cities have also been struggling with a persistent homeless problem and the drug use and crime that often go hand in hand.
San Francisco has been in the throes of a homelessness crisis for years now, and it has only gotten worse since before the pandemic. About 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on a given night. That’s up 35% since 2019. More than 7,000 people are homeless in San Francisco itself. Businesses have fled San Francisco’s downtown, where foot traffic has thinned in part due to the homeless issue.
In Los Angeles, homelessness is up 10% this year, according to the 2023 greater Los Angeles homeless count results. In the city of Los Angeles itself, the number of homeless people jumped to about 46,260 people. In the broader area of Los Angeles County, the homeless population rose to about 75,518 people.