The Colorado Springs Gazette writes of the harsh life of a 53-year-old unemployed mason named Ray, whose latest home renovation wasn’t a paying gig but rather the cardboard floor he installed in his tepee on the banks of Fountain Creek, where he plans to squat for the winter. And as a drive along I-25 through the Colorado Springs area plainly shows on any given day, Ray isn’t alone. Tents, tarps, and campfires have blossomed into villages during the past year of economic downturn as new legions of homeless gather in cold desperation. “Most of them have formed groups,” says Colorado Springs police officer Brett Iverson, a member of the department’s Homeless Outreach Team. “In the past, you’d find them scattered out, but now you’re seeing more larger groups looking out for each other.” In Grand Junction, an advocacy group called “Housing First! No More Deaths!” is fighting for a heated structure near downtown so that homeless people don’t freeze to death overnight this winter, according to the Free Press. At least Angelique Robinson, her husband, and toddler have found a place to stay. Wish, a pending nonprofit, has offered to pay for six months of rent at an apartment, food, clothes, and diapers for the family after seeing them on 9News. Meanwhile, across the United States, food stamp usage is up, reports The New York Times, which features an interactive map on its Web site detailing the increase in percentages, by county, of each state.