homeless veterans (copy)

A homeless veteran who goes by the name Red walks through Monument Valley Park with his belongings in February.

The real causes of these sad deaths

Thanks for the article on the deaths of the homeless last year, (Gazette, Feb. 23). It was beautifully done.

One major takeaway: Based on the individual descriptions of those who died, we do not have a crisis of lack of affordable housing — we have a crisis of drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness. Some type of shelter is apparently available to anyone who needs it.

It’s time for our elected officials to stop blaming affordable housing and begin fighting the real causes of these sad deaths.

Gary Altman

Colorado Springs

The helping vs. enabling issue

The Gazette lead article about the many homeless people dying from various causes was very moving. One does have to ask, why are so many people living outside the shelter system? I believe the answer lies, at least partially, due to our system of service provision.

Our homeless services have evolved into a growing industry, employing a number of staff. The agencies offer many “avenues of escape” from homelessness. Why then are so many living and dying outside? Our agencies, while offering very good services, are also saying, as an unintended consequence, “stay homeless”, with a menu of “no questions asked” handouts. I was told, many years ago, by a psychologist in Lawrence, Kan., that “every handout given to the homeless should have a therapeutic pull attached to it.” The Visalia Rescue Mission has created a pair of powerful PSAs about the enabling issue. I recommend anyone concerned with the issue spend the few minutes it takes to view them: https://vrmhope.org/help-that-helps

This community badly needs to have a real conversation about the “helping vs. enabling” issue. As things are, we are causing harm to the community, the programming and especially the homeless population. No one should hear the words “stay homeless” as a message conveyed by no-questions-asked handouts. Other communities have addressed the enabling/toxic charity issue. We could, too.

Matthew Parkhouse

Colorado Springs

Report provided insight, understanding

I was very touched by Leon Kelly’s honesty about his childhood as part of the “Where the Homeless Die” special report in Sunday’s Gazette. I read every profile, which provided so much insight and understanding about the complexity of this issue. As a resident of the northeast side of town and volunteer with a local ministry, I know more homeless people are seeking the northeast side where, presumably, they feel safer than in other areas.

On a personal level, I relate to Kelly’s story only in the way that I have family members who have adopted a child who was removed from a home with a mentally ill parent.

Mental illness, addiction, and other maladies affect not only the individual suffering with such, but also their children, and in our case, an adoptive family that is now in crisis. I am curious to know how Kelly escaped the tragedies of his childhood. I hope The Gazette will print more of his story, if only to give all of us some hope!

Rita Watkin

Colorado Springs

No reason to widen Black Forest Road

When we moved here 12 years ago, we requested and got from our realtor a list and diagram showing road improvements approved in El Paso County, and which would be (supposedly) finished by 2020. The most striking one was Stapleton in Falcon, connecting to Briargate.

With the quick rate of homes being “installed” (hard to say build...) on Vollmer, Black Forest Road and Powers Blvd area, I am surprised the roads east/west haven’t been started yet. The only reason traffic is bad at Research, Cowpoke and Vollmer intersections on Black Forest Road is because there are no other east/west routes!

There is absolutely no reason to widen Black Forest Road (or any other road in the Forest) north of the future Briargate connector. We who live, travel and work in the Forest do not need more traffic, noise, crime, litter nor commerce. And I guess the wildlife is of no concern to El Paso County nor developers either.

Why are there thousands of homes on 1/3-1/4 acre lots instead of hundreds on 2-4 acre lots? I just cannot fathom having lots less than 2 acres in size for some space and comfort of residents, plus allowing our critters to still stay in their area/homes.

Oh, and one more thing: how many of these developments are ‘stealing’ water from upstream communities in the Forest? Those huge tanks on Arroya Lane better have their own supply and no new well heads!

Marta Constable

Colorado Springs

Column shares important information

Thank you for giving me information that I do not always have. I am referring to the Jesse Owens column by David Ramsey. Most of my generation know the Jesse Owens name and his humiliation by Hitler when he won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Most of us did not know the rest of the story. At least most of us white people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a good president who brought us out of the Depression and created work and other programs that benefit us to this day. But apparently Roosevelt was either a racist or a coward, not sending a congratulatory telegram or invitation to the white house. And at the dinner honoring him at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, Owens had to ride the service elevator! The story goes on to cite other offenses of racist America in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

So 100 years after the Civil War, a civil rights movement started in our country. Isn’t that sad that so little progress was made in 100 years. And today, 70 years later, there is still much progress to be made regarding race, gender, gender orientation.

Carol Cook

Colorado Springs

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