Denver taxpayers shell out twice as much for each homeless person than each public school student, report

Denver taxpayers are spending twice as much to deal with and take care of the city’s homeless than on their public school students, according to a report released Thursday.

In fact, the Common Sense Institute, in collaboration with the University of Colorado-Denver, said in their report that the city spends more than twice the amount on homeless as it spends on school kids.

The researchers found that Denver spends between $41,679 and $104,201 on each homeless person versus an average of $19,202 per K-12 public school student, the Daily Mail reported.

The report says that in the Metro Denver Area, which takes in Denver, Boulder, and Aurora, officials spend in excess of $481.1 million on homelessness, with the lion’s share by far, $434.6 million, being spent by the City of Denver.

That amount is higher than the budgets of some state-level agencies including Labor & Employment, which has a 2020-21 fiscal year budget of $259.3 million.

Denver’s homeless expenditures are also about four times more than the state spends through the Military & Veterans Affairs Agency, which was budgeted $132.3 million for the current fiscal year, the Daily Mail notes.

Researchers said that they came up with their figures based on combining the amounts of money the city spent on support services, shelters, healthcare and other forms of public assistance directed at the homeless.

They noted that their estimates are actually lower than the true amount because they did not include charitable donations or supporting funds from additional public agencies like emergency response, law enforcement, and health departments.

Researchers also noted that it is difficult to count the actual number of homeless people living in the Metro Denver Area, the true number of which would also likely raise the homeless-to-schoolchildren ratio. Using several methods, they estimated the number of homeless living in the region to be between 15,260 and 31,207.

A spokesman for Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock told the news outlet that the city does not track the amounts of money spent specifically on taking care of its homeless, but the report noted that the city’s homeless population has increased over the past few years.

Researchers noted in their report that they didn’t examine how much the various metro governments spent on homeless people compared to what was spent on “stable housing initiatives,” the Daily Mail noted.

That said, the Denver Post reported this week that Hancock’s administration held several sweeps of homeless camps recently and has since released a 5-year-plan aimed at reducing homelessness with the aim of getting those people into stable housing.

“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,” Hancock said in a letter accompanying the plan.

“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,” he added.

Denver, by far, is not the only Democrat-run city dealing with dramatic upticks in homelessness. Austin, Texas, is also seeing an increase, as are several cities in California.

In fact, the Golden State is home to the country’s largest homeless population.

Jon Dougherty

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