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"State of Emergency" Declared for Homeless in CO

December 18, 2008

Denver - A "state of emergency" has been declared in Colorado. Rising unemployment, foreclosures and overall tough economic times have led to a big jump in homelessness.

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless President John Parvensky declared the emergency at a press conference Wednesday, citing this as the worst situation he has seen in more than two decades of helping to fight homelessness here.

"We're seeing an increased risk of death on the streets because of the rising homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing, shelter and health care.”

Parvensky says proposed budget cuts at the state and city levels will have a devastating impact on the fight against homelessness.

"Homeless service providers are having to end programs and cut back programs when the demand is already beyond capacity."

Parvensky says both short- and long-term strategies are needed to respond to the emergency.

"Those who are hurt most by this economic crisis--those who are losing their homes and ending up on the streets--ought to be helped through new investment in programs that provide supportive housing and health care."

He describes shelters and homeless service providers as already "stretched thin," and not just those in the Denver area. He says at least half of Colorado counties have homeless families and individuals, including significant numbers in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Durango, Alamosa, Fort Collins and Greeley.

Eric Mack/Steve Powers, Public News Service - CO