The Dangers of

February 2010

"It does break your heart," says Bernard O'Connell, an outreach specialist for the St. Francis Center, which helps homeless people downtown (via 7News). Two homeless people he knew, including a young woman, were murdered in recent weeks on the streets. "They can get beat up for drug money," O'Connell adds. "They can get beat up for anything.... I've had, in over six years as an outreach worker, a lot of death." In fact, 44 percent of the city's homeless meet at least one criterion that classifies them as higher risk of death if they remain on the streets, according to a new study cited by the Denver Business Journal. The "Vulnerability Index" survey found 37 percent of Denver's homeless had been the victims of a violent attack while living on the streets. Fifty percent say they have no health insurance, and 62 of the 276 surveyed have a combination of mental illness, substance abuse problems, and chronic disease. Jamie Van Leeuwen, executive director of Denver's Road Home, says there are plans to house and provide services to 280 homeless people and families, and 500 units of housing will be created over the next two years (via 9News). The organization estimates there are more than 3,900 homeless men, women, and children in Denver.