“Certainly when it comes to homelessness among families, the most significant contributing factor is the lack of affordable housing.” — David Rout, Homeless Gear.
Like most Front Range communities, Fort Collins has experienced a rise in house prices and increasing rents. David Rout, Executive Director of Homeless Gear, a non profit in Fort Collins that serves the homeless community says that is pushing families further out into the suburbs of Fort Collins and is pushing many families into homelessness.
“Certainly when it comes to homelessness among families, the most significant contributing factor is the lack of affordable housing. We have people who work in Fort Collins but can’t afford to live in Fort Collins. More and more people are getting pushed out into the community into Greeley, Wellington, Windsor and the surrounding areas.”
The non-profit began by supporting those sleeping on the streets by distributing outdoor gear. It now operates a ‘family’ of six programs that provides a continuum (or pathway) of services to individuals and families who are homeless or — in some cases — at risk of becoming homeless: supplies that help them survive in the short-term, connections to resources in the interim and links to employment, housing and self-sufficiency in the long-term.
Rout says the annual point in time count of the homeless community that happens in January, has shown 300-350 sleeping outside, in their cars or in a shelter. However the point in time count doesn’t count the hidden population of homeless…families doubling up in housing, people in transitional housing, particularly children who are without stable housing.
“In the Poudre School District we see about 1000 kids every year who experience homelessness and about another 500 or so in the Thompson School District which is down in Loveland experiencing homelessness. So about 1500 kids over the course of a year, of course that doesn’t count parents. Based on our data, the average family size that we’re working with is about 3 kids, so if you want to extrapolate just Larimer County, you’re talking about at least 500 families in the school districts that are identifying as homeless.”
Homeless Gear and the Murphy hosting the 4th annual Mission To Hope Walk! On December 2nd 2017.
It’s an opportunity for people walk together from the overnight shelter in Fort Collins to the Murphy Center. That’s a walk that many homeless people do every day to get services. The event is designed to raise awareness about homelessness in Fort Collins and is a fundraiser for the Murphy Center and Homeless Gear. People can walk as an individual or as part of a team.