Feb 12, 2010 9:56 PM by Matt Stafford

From prison to a prison of homelessness

The homeless population is already high in Colorado Springs, but a state department may be adding to it.

After getting out of prison in Sterling, this isn't the home sweet home Scott Meacham was expecting.

"They paroled me underneath the (Bijou St.) bridge," says Scott Meacham, who was paroled at the end of January. "When they release you from D.O.C. you get a little windbreaker of a jacket. I ended up spending the whole night freezing, wide awake because I couldn't get to sleep."

Since then, the underneath of the bridge has been Meacham's home.

"They just said this is where you're going to be underneath this bridge, and that's where you're going to be until you can afford to get yourself out of there," says Meacham.

They keep track of him through a G.P.S. device, and it makes sure Meacham is where he's supposed to be.

"My curfew is from 6:30 in the evening until 5 o'clock in the morning," explains Meacham. "During that time I have to be under that bridge. Even if I have to in the middle of the night have to use the restroom I couldn't even go across the bridge to the 7/11."

It's not exactly the transition house he was expecting, but for now it will have to do.

"Maybe they are just full," speculates Meacham but he still has no answers. "I don't know why, they haven't told me."

A D.O.C. spokesperson says lack of space at transitional housing is why they are releasing people into homelessness.

If he could afford permanent housing, Meacham would be allowed to move. However, living on the streets makes it tough to find work.

"Nobody is going to hire you if you walk in there, put in an application and they can smell you from across the counter," says Meacham.

Despite the circumstances, Meacham keeps on looking for a job, just like he does every night for the few possessions of his that he has to hide.

"I walk over here thinking oh please be there because if its not, I'm going to have nothing to sleep with that night."

As beds open up, the D.O.C. says they will get people in them. For now, he's out, and he doesn't want to mess that up.

"I have the opportunity to get a job, get an apartment, get myself out from underneath this bridge and eventually get off parole."

The thought gives him hope to get through a tough night.



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