Longmont homeless population declining, police say

LONGMONT, Colo. -- New statistics show a drop in Longmont's homeless population, according to the city's deputy police chief.

Part of the success is attributed to programs that focus on police having direct conversations with people living on the streets.

Some people in Longmont say seeing a homeless person is much less common than it used to be.

Business owner Don Jensen said customers used to be afraid to walk through an alley next to his guitar shop because the homeless were camping out there.

"I’d say over the last few months, it’s pretty much been a non-issue. I don’t know what’s changed. I don’t know exactly what they’ve done, but it’s improved immensely," Jensen said.

The city credits some of the success to police offering new social services to the homeless.

"We’re helping people get connected with treatment services. We’re helping them connect with mental health services. And we’re helping them get stable, which helps at the next level getting them into housing," Longmont Deputy Police Chief Jeff Satur said.

Satur says officers have seen a 73 percent year-to-year drop in the number of calls to deal with the homeless.

There has also been a dramatic drop in the cost of cleaning up encampments.

However, some people who live near Athletic Park believe some of the homeless ended in up in their neighborhood.

"I think it just depends on the time of day. Like, right now, it’s just calm and quiet. But when the sun goes, down everything changes," said a woman who only identified herself as Stephanie.

Some of her neighbors believe the homeless problem is the worse they’ve seen in years.

"I’m just grateful that it’s become an issue that we’re all looking at and paying attention to, and that it can get better and people can find the resources that they need," said Marian Stonacek, who also lives near the park.

Police say fixing the problem will not happen overnight. However, officers say they are glad to be making progress.

The community will meet in three weeks to discuss the efforts to deal with the homeless problem.

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