DENVER (KDVR) — Spending on homelessness is up in the Denver area, but so is the homeless population, according to a new report.
Among other findings about the size and scope of the issue, the Common Sense Institute reported that Denver-area spending on homeless has gone up 38%-63% in the last two years.
The Common Sense Institute is a think tank focused on free-market economic policies. The nonprofit organization is associated with the State Policy Network. Its board of directors is made up primarily of leaders from local businesses and industry groups.
According to the group’s estimates, Denver’s spending between 2021 and 2023 will total $1.46 billion, Aurora’s $76 million and Boulder’s $87 million.
Controversially, CSI’s analysis estimates how much is spent on shelter and services per individual. These estimates vary according to estimates of how many people are experiencing homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that number is 7,000 people, but other estimates have it closer to 30,000.
In Denver in 2023, CSI estimates between $24,291 to $73,450 will be spent per person. In Aurora, there will be $10,156 to $30,710 spent per person and in Boulder, between $18,273 and $55,253 per person.
This is the second analysis of homelessness-related spending the Common Sense Institute has produced. The report details spending and resources from advocacies, municipal first responders, non-profits and city, state and federal governments.
The response from advocates this year is similar to the last.
Homelessness advocacies, including the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, both say the study’s spending estimates are far too high. It double counts what governments give to service providers in the form of grants, expands the definition of “homeless” to include those in supportive housing, and overcounts the number of employees offering services.
Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, called CSI’s report a “misleading” and “loosely-informed” shock tactic.
Despite objections, the Common Sense Institute stands by its research as a broad view of the economic impact of homelessness.