Colorado is spending unprecedented money on homelessness. How long will it take to see results? |

Colorado is spending unprecedented money on homelessness. How long will it take to see results?

Two expert panels — one made up of housing officials and the other including people who are homeless — talked about future plans

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
Teams of city workers and employees from local nonprofits in the Denver metro area visited highway underpasses, alleys, public parks, transit terminals, parking lots, and other locations to count houseless individuals in January.
Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun

Colorado has more money than ever to spend on solving homelessness, as well as the most comprehensive data to date about how many people need services. 

Still, the crisis is expected to get worse before it gets better, as the total economic impact of the global pandemic has yet to emerge and the array of solutions now in the works will take years to fully materialize, according to a panel of experts who met Friday in downtown Denver. 

“We have a lot of catching up to do because this has been an unfunded crisis for so long,” said Cathy Alderman, communications director for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Colorado has for a few years dedicated about $9 million in state funds for housing, adding about $45 million annually in 2019 through what’s called a vendor fee for affordable housing. Legislators also have tagged unclaimed property funds for affordable housing, although the law is activated only in certain years because of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This year, the govern0r’s budget includes plans to spend $200 million on homelessness initiatives, thanks in part to one-time American Rescue Plan Act funding.  

“But that’s not enough,” Alderman said. “The federal government certainly hasn’t kept up with the scale of the crisis across the country. And this one-time infusion of funds gives us a huge opportunity, but if we’re not planning for what happens at the end of it, I don’t know that we can make promises beyond it.”


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