About $481 million is annually spent on various services for the homeless, including health care and housing, each year, in the Denver, Colorado, metro area, a figure that outpaces spending by the state on veterans affairs and on K-12 public school students.
Data from the Colorado General Assembly shows that the budget for services for the homeless in 2021 is about $481,200,000, about $13 million less than the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s budget for the year and hundreds of millions more than the budget of the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
According to the University of Colorado Denver and the Common Sense Institute, a non-partisan research group that focuses on the Colorado economy, anywhere between $41,679 and $104,201 is spent each year per person suffering from homelessness, while an estimated $19,202 is spent per child in public K-12 education.
One of the report’s co-authors, former Colorado Department of Education official Brenda Dickhoner, told the Denver Post that she thinks the amount spend on services for the homeless has been undercounted due to the difficulty in tracking and organizing municipal agencies and contributions from charitable groups. She also noted that the report focuses just on services for the homeless, and does not include the cost of government spending in other departments like fire, police and parks.
A spokesperson for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who earlier this week announced a five-year plan for fighting homelessness in the city, told the Post that the city does not track its spending on services for the homeless on a per-capita basis.
In a letter released along with the plan, Hancock said: “The aim of all these steps and our entire strategy is to help as many of our unhoused residents as possible to enter housing — and to stay housed. When homelessness occurs, we should do everything in our power — as a society, not just as a government — to make it brief and one-time.”
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