Thursday, March 10, 2016

Olivia Hughes Relfects on Denver: The Good, The Bad, The Homeless

            I was performing a needs and risks assessment with a participant the other day at my internship.  When I asked how many months she had been homeless she stated four years, so I calculated and kept going. At first it was alarming to hear a number like that, but after further reflection I realized that I had heard even worse numbers than that so I did not think twice about it. Reflecting back on it makes me realize how the scope of homelessness to me has changed.
Moving to Denver was so exciting! Visiting a few times before assured me of the beauty and wonder in the surrounding landscape. However, even years ago when I first came through Denver, I could not help but notice the level of homelessness visible within the city. It was difficult to see and to understand how such a seemingly well off city with rapid growth could have this. I guess that is the problem.
            While working at The Empowerment Program I have been able to meet women from all backgrounds more often than not struggling with housing. Instability is a major contributor to addiction and illegal activities for the women at Empowerment, and stable housing is often a struggle they have. Every time I do the application I feel blessed that I get to help them in any way I can, however it could take months to hear back if at all. Seeing their faces when I mention it could take two months to even hear back is heartbreaking considering that’s another two months that she will be on the street and there’s only so much I can do to help. The sobering truth is that there is just not enough affordable housing so service providers have to do their best for their clients who just want a place to sleep without being worried about others invading their sleeping space. I have learned a lot so far but I feel as though it is just the tip of the housing iceberg in such a complicated system.

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