Facing Homelessness Yellow Resize

Denver is in an affordable housing and homelessness crisis

Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation with housing and rent prices sky rocketing. While many residents are benefiting from the boom there are also many who are suffering from it. A wave of affluent transplants are filling up new apartments, even though rents have risen more than 3 times the national average. Skyrocketing property values are flooding the city with increased tax revenue, yet the city doesn’t have enough affordable housing for those who need it. Meanwhile many current residents are being priced out of the housing market and builders have no incentive to build affordable and low income housing, which is 21,000 units short for what Denver needs.
Jerry has spent many years on the streets advocating and organizing for homeless rights. His work has culminated into a bill called the “Colorado Right to Rest Act”  which establishes basic rights for persons experiencing homelessness. Jerry’s greatest value is to care and to have compassion for people who are in desperate circumstances.
For Jerry It was confusing as to why the city had instituted a policy that takes people’s blankets, issues tickets, and forces people to move every 2 hours when there was no place to go. Especially when those who needed emergency services were not able to access shelters and were put on a waiting list or in a lottery.
Early on in life Jerry recounts how his mother would host people in his home. They might be strangers but she would invite them in to have a meal and she would serve them the best that they had at the time. She always gave freely and would host those who needed it. Now Jerry does the same thing with his life. He advocates for the rights of those on the streets because choosing to care and have compassion for people is a core value of who he is. 
When Jerry decided to be an advocate he was in a good place and working. It was when he witnessed the police taking blankets from people on the streets one cold wintery day, that he was compelled to do something. He says, “It hurt me to the core…I had to do something about it”
Jerry points out that most really don’t want to be on the streets… “They wake up every morning, go to work, and come back to the sad reality of not having their own home.” Finding a dignified place to sleep is tough and shelters have become crowded, unsafe, and undignified. Finding sanctuary has become nearly impossible and not what you would hope to experience if you were found in a desperate situation.
When Jerry moved to Denver, he was a veteran and a single father with his son. He recounts that “everything was nice”. He found a good job, made a good friend, and life was looking up. Then his life took a downturn. Some bad things happened to him. He lost his job and then lost his son. He doesn’t blame anyone for those losses and in the process of recovering, Jerry would not lose his dignity or his pride. He declared “It’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up”
Now Jerry fights for the “Pride” and “Dignity” of others on the streets that are experiencing hard times. Jerry’s grit from the marine core and his compassion gleaned from his mother have informed his approach to recovery for himself and for those he advocates for on the streets.

“It’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up”


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