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Could homeless sweep in Denver send more people to Colorado Springs?

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

After the City of Denver cleared out homeless camps off some of the city's sidewalks, putting people's belongings into trash trucks to be stored elsewhere, some might wonder if that will have an impact on the amount of homeless people in the Colorado Springs area.

The Colorado Springs Police Homeless Outreach Team and leaders at Springs Rescue Mission said they simply don't know if the volatile situation in Denver will send more homeless to our area. But they added that it's unlikely, because most of the homeless population in Colorado Springs are from the immediate area.

"Watching anybody suffer on the streets at all, whether their stuff is being moved away or whatever is a hard thing to watch," said Timothy Gore, Director of Human Relations at Springs Rescue Mission.

And while a few of our homeless were once in Denver, most are not.

"These are our people that we're helping out," said Gore. "About 70 percent of the homeless in Colorado Springs, their last address when they had a home was in Colorado Springs."

Lt. Jeff Jensen with the CSPD Homeless Outreach Team said those numbers are spot on, and said he believes most of the homeless in Denver will stay there.

"I'd be very surprised if that happened," said Jensen when asked about an influx of homeless from Denver.

But if they do come, Gore said the Springs Rescue Mission will do its best to help them.

"We'll work with a continuum of care, there's other agencies involved as well, to ensure that we meet as many needs as we possibly can with the resources that we have," said Gore.

And that's where the expansion at the Springs Rescue Mission comes in.

"If all the shelters step up and get help and do the same thing as this one's doing Colorado Springs will forever have a grip on their homeless people, as many as keep on pouring in," said Cowboy Lee, a homeless man staying at the Rescue Mission.

The expansion will start this April and finish the following fall, and will include a day center with laundry facilities, 160 more beds, a year round shelter and an ability to feed twice as many people.

"This city does have a passion for helping those that are suffering from homelessness and poverty and a lot of our organizations are working together for real solutions," said Gore.

A few years ago, Colorado Springs had a similar problem with too many homeless camps set up around the city, causing health hazards.  Since then, a city ordinance banning camping in public places has helped with that as well as the Homeless Outreach Team working with people to clean up those camps on a continuous basis.

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