Shopping Carts + Lots of Needles: Fort Collins, Colorado, Cleans Up Natural Areas
Recently I walked along the Poudre Trail while my kids were playing tennis at Lee Martinez Park. This is one of my favorite places because of the large trees and river access. I had not walked here in years. There were signs put up about owls nesting. People were biking, jogging, and holding hands. There were tents in the woods. Like one of those "what's wrong with this photo?" things, a tent was not supposed to be there.
Just like in most cities, the homeless population and camps are popping up everywhere. It's not that I didn't know it was happening, I just hadn't seen it like this. I didn't walk down one of my favorite pathways because I felt uneasy. There was a dad and his toddler just 50 feet from this tent in the woods.
2,448 clients enrolled in the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) in Q2 of 2023 in Fort Collins. The numbers are startling and it's hard not to notice all across the city. The good news is we have organizations who work to clean up the natural areas affected by this and support the people who need it.
Fort Collins Police Services shared that several teams came together "to clean up 31 sites throughout the city. These teams disposed of or diverted: 16 cubic yards of waste (101 bags), 5 cubic yards of metal, 25 needles/syringes, 2 tires, and 8 shopping carts."
Remember the importance of Gandhi's quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world". Several organizations are helping to empower those who face homelessness to move forward through programs, education, housing, jobs, and more. Homeward Alliance is always looking for volunteers.