Faces of the Fort Collins homeless population

Erin Douglas
Sep 26, 2016 · 2 min read

Police have increased their presence in the homeless population of Fort Collins in recent months, according to a September article in the Coloradoan. While rent increases across the city, both for businesses and for housing, volunteers at shelters have said the city’s transient population is steadily increasing.

“I’m kind of sad today. My trailer got stolen. We don’t have a chance. If you sleep in the streets, the cops give you a big fat ticket or take you to jail … The other night I had to sleep way over near I-25 … There’s no such thing as cheap (housing) here … People need to see us as humans, not as dirt. If everyone would pitch in, Fort Collins wouldn’t be like this.” — Alfredo Macias, a man who works at the shelter to earn his stay for himself and his wife.

“One time I was panhandling outside Fort Collins High School, like where the McDonalds is, the fucking kids were giving me money, it was awesome. But, the cops came. Fucking annoying. … It’s crazy every day. I can’t keep up with these fuckers (some members in the homeless community). Some people are really cool. … It’s crazy, a couple years ago I was with this chick and we had four kids, but she was a monster. She kicked me out … I’m not going in there (to the shelter) to sleep or shower, that’s for sure. I went in there last winter and I got fucking sick for four months. Sick as a dog. Coughing my brains out. They can’t clean that place because half these people can’t clean themselves … People love cigarettes. I (have) a cigarette machine. … I’ve been working since I was 12 years old, but oh man, I’ve got the worst family and friends. I go back and forth between friends and family and my ex. Because all I do is work myself to death, and give them everything I got. But, my family is a bunch of sober assholes.” — Tom, a 39-year-old who carries his cardboard art, cigarette machine, speaker and headphones, pens and markers, bike, and a bag of stories he has written with him at all times.

“I was published in an academic journal at CSU and I can’t afford housing as a disabled student. I was a student at CSU and I was fighting homelessness as a student. I was going to finish school, but I can’t do it without housing. I’m on a fixed income, and even if you do work then you can’t afford housing. This is a real issue. I’m disabled and I can’t even find a place. There is no affordable housing here.” — John Sneddon, a former CSU student diagnosed with bipolor disoder

“There’s not very much availability of low-income housing. It’s hard for the homeless community to get employment … There should be some flexibility. There are a lot of knowledgeable men and women (in this community), but it’s a matter of getting opportunities. We’re all documented one way or another. (We) can’t really look ahead to another day. It’s really rough because a lot of them get institutionalized. They go through a lot of trauma … it causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The anxiety of what they have to experience is very difficult. We have a battle, and I think it’s getting better, but there is a lot of negativity out here. A lot of them turn to something not good … There are a lot of variance in ages and (time). Some people have been here for a while and some for a week … I would like to see Fort Collins to have more input in the missions … The winter takes a lot of lives, and a lot of them go through chronic issues in the winter. We need to feel what’s out in the street. Let’s have that eye contact. Come out and feel. … I have served my career as homeless for 33 years, and I have a migrant background. I feel what these people are going through and (the work I do) is very meaningful to me. This is what I’ve done all my life.” — Domingo Junior Longoli-Sanchez, an employee with the state government who identifies as homeless.
Fort Collins Rescue Mission.

Domingo believes the population of homeless people is increasing, in Fort Collins and in the state. He said many people cannot get into the mission at night because it is overcrowded. Men and women are separated in the shelter, and some married couples don’t like to stay there because they cannot sleep with their spouse.

Those who cannot get into the shelter sometimes sleep at Jefferson Park, but many said the police have had a heavy presence in the park lately.

The city recently considered moving the shelter farther away from old town, but several volunteers were worried about where the homeless population would sleep and work in the meantime, as several of them work for their stay at the shelter.

Erin Douglas is a junior at Colorado State University pursuing two degrees in journalism and economics. Read more of her articles at collegian.com where she works as the Collegian news editor.

Erin Douglas

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Writes news for @CSUCollegian. Studying journalism and economics at @ColoradoStateU

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