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Denver spends more on homeless than its students and police

Harry Wilmerding, DCNF

Denver spent twice as much money on its homeless population than it did on its students and police, a Common Sense Institute August report showed.

The city spent between $41,679 and $104,201 per person on its homeless population, compared to $19,202 per student in K-12 public schools in 2020, according to the report. In total it spent $481 million on healthcare, housing and other services for homeless people, over $100 million more than the Department of Public Safety’s budget.

Homeless spending was also roughly double the $20,000 average annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Denver, according to the report.

Denver’s homeless population increased by 25% between January 2017-2020, according to the report. The report did not measure the homeless population for the 2020-2021 period, but did note that emergency shelter “guests” increased by 46%.

Of the 6,104 homeless, 30% have experienced a form of substance abuse and 10% are veterans, according to the report.

The report was released one day after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued his five-year plan to combat the city’s homeless problem.

In a letter that accompanied the five-year plan, Hancock stressed the importance of housing stability. “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,” he wrote.

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