Expensive housing could lead to increased homelessness

Homelessness, which plagues many communities across the nation, has been steadily increasing in the Fort Collins area.

Lori Frank, a crime analyst for the Fort Collins Police Department, said that since 2005 the numbers have only continued to grow.

“It’s dependent on the address field of the person who is arrested,” Frank said. “It’s possible that we have just been doing a more accurate job of recording residencies. It could be a combination of both, plus we have also been arresting and citing them more often than we used to.”

Glenn Good, the regional director for Catholic Charities, said that a certain amount of the homeless population in Fort Collins are chronically homeless and are experiencing problems with addiction or mental illness. However, a majority of the people who come through a shelter are experiencing homelessness for the first time, Good said.

“After the recession hit in 2008, it seems that people whose hours were cut or lost their jobs had resources to fall back on for a bit,” Good said. “Now, their resources are all used up and they are experiencing homelessness as a result.”

Kelly Evans, the director of Neighbor to Neighbor, an organization that assists with housing solutions for the homeless or those who are on the brink of homelessness, attributes much of the problem to the shortage of affordable housing in Fort Collins.

According to Evans, a family or individual shouldn’t spend over 30 percent of their income on rent. Affordability of housing in a given area is then determined by the average income for a given area.

Increases in apartment costs, Evans said, have risen by 14 percent in the last two years. In comparison, housing in the Denver area has only risen about six percent.

“Fort Collins is a desirable place to live in, but that doesn’t explain the amount of inflation in the housing market,” Evans said. “More than 55 percent of renters in Fort Collins are spending over a third of their income on rent, they’re what we call ‘rent-burdened’ individuals.”

A recent study titled, “Out of Reach,” discovered that one must earn at least $14.35 in hourly wages within the Larimer county area to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.

“Especially for a college student, that wage is high,” Evans said. “Now imagine you have no college degree and a family to feed, that’s even more unlikely.”

ASCSU Beat Reporter Carrie Mobley can be reached at news@collegian.com.