Denver's Homelessness Crisis: A Tipping Point

It was a sight that many couldn't ignore.

by Faruk Imamovic
Denver's Homelessness Crisis: A Tipping Point
© Getty Images News/John Moore

It was a sight that many couldn't ignore. Denver resident and think tank owner, Jon Caldara, resorted to dumping human waste outside his office on the steps of City Hall, expressing his deep frustration over the escalating homeless problem in the city.

This act, designed to shock and gain attention, worked as it shed light on a multi-faceted issue affecting not only Denver but many American cities.

Bipartisan Understanding Amid Crisis

While their political leanings differ, Mayor Mike Johnston of Denver expressed understanding for Caldara's desperate act.

Johnston, a Democrat, has long been acquainted with Caldara, a libertarian. "I've known Jon Caldara for a long time... but I think he and I share the same goal," Johnston said in an interview with Fox News Digital. Both want safe, clean public spaces for everyone and to provide housing for those without it.

The mayor emphasized that many of those living in tents and encampments have no access to public amenities, leading to unsanitary and inhumane conditions. Denver, which significantly leaned toward President Biden in the 2020 elections, is among numerous cities grappling with escalating living expenses and the resulting homelessness.

Despite political differences, Johnston appreciates the shared concern. "One of the things I love about this job as a nonpartisan mayor and about this task is people from all ends of the spectrum care deeply about this," he said.

Denver's Battle with Homelessness

Recent statistics highlight the gravity of Denver's situation. The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, released the previous year, ranked Denver tenth in terms of the largest homeless populations in American cities for 2022.

The number neared a staggering 7,000. What's even more alarming is that outside of California, Denver's homeless crisis was the fourth worst. The repercussions of this issue resonate loudly among the city's businesses. The rise in homelessness has been linked to decreasing foot traffic, dwindling revenues, and even closures.

Caldara’s viral act was supplemented with pictures showcasing used needles, human waste, and broken glass surrounding his office – a visual representation of the challenges many face daily. Mayor Johnston voiced concerns about Denver's commercial future, "We now have one of the highest commercial vacancy rates of any city in America...

So we know this is one of the major drivers that changes how people feel about their downtown." In the face of such adversity, collaboration and understanding across the political spectrum seem imperative. Denver's crisis is a call to action, demanding unified solutions that address the root causes and alleviate the current symptoms.