Denver's population was exploding long before recreational marijuana was legalized in late 2012; in November 2011, William Frey of the Brookings Institute said that U.S. Census figures from 2008 through 2010 showed that the Denver was the top destination for millennials. And not just millennials; people were moving to the Mile High City in record numbers. And as the population grew, so did the portion of the population that was homeless. There are many reasons for the growth in homelessness — the recession, followed by a development boom that reduced the inventory of cheap housing chief among them — but the myth that marijuana was responsible lives on.
Consider this exchange of comments posted on Facebook following Chris Walker's story on the December 15 panel discussing Denver's homeless situation. Tracey started it with this:
Stoners need to go back home. We need to help the chronic homeless that truly have no place to go.
Really? Do you have proof that stoners are the problem? I'm guessing that you're a CO native because of your attitude. I would suggest that you look at the data before you blame "stoners." People have been flocking to the Front Range for far longer than marijuana has been legal and homelessness is a completely different issue than substance abuse. Believe it or not, there are "stoners" that are not homeless.
Not saying that stoners don't. I just know that there is a huge influx of people who are squatters here, who really don't have to be. It is taking a lot of resources away from the chronic homeless population.
not sure a sane person would sit outdoors for the opportunity to get stoned, there is no shortage of weed in any part of the country...
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Then why do they flock here?
And finally, this from Brian:
For the same reasons EVERYONE is and has been flocking to the Front Range for a long time. Good weather, good economy, better healthcare and homeless services than other large cities, etc. The list is long and marijuana is way down at the bottom. Marijuana is now legal in MANY states and our problem is uniquely ours because it's not a marijuana problem.
If you moved to Colorado from somewhere else — and chances are you did — what brought you here?