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Jan 23, 2013 8:31 PM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo count highlights dark realities of homelessness

We're getting an eye-opening look into the life of Pueblo's homeless population as a non-profit attempts to count everyone living on the streets. From gang violence to youth prostitution their struggles to find shelter are unimaginable.

Gwendolyn Carey, 58, lost more than her job two years ago. "I lost my home, my car, my cat died because she was on the street with me. She's gonna be dead a year... That's the one that hurts the most," said Carey.

Broke and broken. It's a reality many homeless people share, but never imagined. "Never ever and I remember going by here and saying I hope I never got there and now I know," said Carey.

To help make a difference Posada hit the streets today to count Pueblo's homeless. Last year's tally identified more than 1,700 homeless people and growing. "The numbers increased by about 30% from the last time we had done a count," said Anne Stattelman, Executive Director of Posada.

That's not necessarily an increase of people living on the street. "We know what we're doing and we're doing a better count, but the other thing is families are making up a larger portion of the homeless population," said Stattelman.

In fact about 10% of kids in Pueblo City Schools have experienced homelessness and posada says some young people are exchanging favors for shelter. "There's often a lot of drug use and prostitution," said Stattelman.

Homeless adults also face dangerous circumstances. "Including a lot of violence from gangs from other people," said Stattelman.

Posada workers conducted part of their count at the Pueblo Community Soup Kitchen. While we were there, we witnessed a loud confrontation among some homeless people.

Carey says it's not unusual for those tensions and fears to linger into the night. "Animals out there and people come through your camps, it's kind of scary. Very scary at night," said Carey.

Posada says the count won't be finalized until sometime in March. But already, Stattelman knows there's a big demand for more affordable housing and shelters in Pueblo. "We can really work on what services make sense for Pueblo County," said Stattelman.

 

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