(John Ransom, Headline USA) A new survey of government spending on homelessness in the Denver area says that the money spent on homeless people exceeds the money spent on students in the area by as much as five times, while also exceeding the money spent on public safety and veterans.
Researchers at the University of Colorado and the Common Sense Institute reported that Denver spent between $42,000 and $104,000 per homeless person each year, according to the Denver Post.
In contrast, Denver only spent $19,202 on K-12 students per pupil over the same period of time, according to Fox News.
The amount on homelessness is more than four times the state’s budget for Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and “significantly more than the public safety, labor or employment departments,” said the local Fox station.
The report included money spent by charities and government spending, but it may have undercounted the money going to the homeless.
“[T]he total amount of spending on the unhoused is undercounted in the study, because municipal agencies and contributions from charitable organizations are difficult to track and categorize,” said the Denver Post, citing report co-author Brenda Dickhoner, who previously worked for the Colorado Department of Education.
Despite the spending, Denver still has a significant population that lives out-of-doors.
In the last five years, the homeless population has grown from 3,631 to 4,171 individuals in Denver, said ColoradoPolitics.com.
Yet, much of the city’s homeless population refuses to go to shelters, despite the outsize spending.
In part, that’s because drug use is out of control, said one local area mayor who posed as a homeless person for one week at Denver’s tent city for the homeless.
“For the encampment generation today, the drug use is much more serious, with the dominant drug being crystal methamphetamine,” Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman told the Post. “It was common to see these young people shooting up or smoking meth in glass pipes.”