Denver pushes back on homeless report that estimates half-billion in annual spending

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Local business groups released a study that estimates money spent on homeless resources — whether from private, public, taxpayer or charity money — outpaces funds for Denver schoolchildren by between two and six times.

The report aims to grasp just how much money is spent on homeless causes and resources in the Denver metro.

“We are spending two to six times the amount on an individual experiencing homelessness than we are educating our K-12 youth,’ said Dave Daria, of the Common Sense Institute.

Business groups investigate homeless spending

It’s important to identify this is not just spending by city government but all spending for the homeless: charity, grants, nonprofits and the like.

The CSI, a business-focused organization, said this study was done in cooperation with the University of Colorado Denver’s Inworks program, along with the Downtown Denver Partnership and Together Denver, the latter of whom organized to defeat a 2019 Denver initiative to overturn the city’s camping ban.

A statistic from the study puts spending on support for one homeless person anywhere between $41,000 and $104,000.

Compare that to a figure it cites from Denver Public Schools in 2019: $19,000 per student.

FOX31 reached out to Denver’s Department of Housing Stability.

A spokesperson said the city welcomes involvement in the process to improve resources for the homeless but added in a statement: “While well intentioned, unfortunately this report also mischaracterizes nonprofit spending on homelessness to include their work in other areas.”

Costs at one Denver homeless shelter

Denver Rescue Mission’s Nicole Tschetter gave FOX31 an idea where that homeless shelter gets its funding and how it spends it.

Tschetter said “83% of every dollar given to Denver Rescue Mission goes toward our operations and helping people, that day-to-day interaction with people experiencing homelessness.”

She said 99% of its revenue comes from donations.

“That other 1% is through some of the grants that we get, as well as some of the COVID-19 relief fund,” Tschetter said.

Denver Rescue Mission also reported a loan of a little more than $2 million dollars from the federal Payroll Protection Program created to relieve the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Common Sense Institute said this isn’t the end of their study.

They said next phase will provide insights into how money can be spent to address root causes of homelessness in Denver.

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