Unhoused: Episode 1 – The Status Quo

Don lives under an underpass by Boulder Creek. “I ended up out here because I can’t get my SSI. I don’t know why everybody said I can help you. All the talk is there, but ain’t nobody helping. So this is my house and I accept it.”

Unhoused a 6-part podcast/radio series produced by the Boulder Weekly and KGNU. Read more about the series in the Boulder Weekly.

Listen to Episode #1:

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Camping has been outlawed on and off in Boulder for decades, though people have been sheltering themselves here in creative ways for much longer than that. The Southern Arapaho peoples were the original stewards of this valley, and they wintered here until the 1800s, when white settlers forcibly removed and massacred them. Generations later, people today live in a variety of ways: on the side of the road in camper vans, over-occupied in house bedrooms, scattered in multi-million dollar homes. And, as ever, people live outside. How many people live outside here is hard to say.

The last time there was an effort to quantify Boulder’s unhoused population was in January, during what’s called a “point-in-time” count. It’s the one day a year where most metro areas, all over the country, send people out to count who they observe as living unsheltered. The last count estimated about 700 individuals are living without shelter in Boulder County, and that’s probably an undercount.

The coronavirus has exacerbated existing problems but in Boulder, the pandemic also happened to coincide with a service-reduction phase in the County’s strategy for ending homelessness. Certain areas of support—like day services and transitional housing opportunities—are now noticeably thin, and many groups of people, from the unhoused themselves to Boulder’s Human Relations Commission, various nonprofits, and community groups—they’re all increasingly frustrated.

In this episode of Unhoused, we look at the system as it stands today. People are falling through the cracks. What’s creating these gaps? Is it intentional? And what’s the ultimate goal?

Unhoused is a 6-part radio series and podcast produced by the Boulder Weekly and KGNU. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, communities already struggling to provide services to the unhoused are seeking to end an enduring problem with new solutions: preventing evictions and exploring opportunities for safe lots, urban campgrounds and tiny homes in addition to the national Housing First strategy. Whether you live in Boulder or not, join host Emma Athena as she analyzes how COVID-19 has changed the conversation around homelessness solutions.


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