Homelessness in Longmont
Why are there so many homeless individuals around?
Many long-time Longmont residents have noticed in recent years that the homeless population in Boulder County seems to have increased. Why is this?
Rents and housing costs in Longmont have skyrocketed, leaving groups of people with little or no savings or income without an affordable, stable place to live. Some of the groups affected by high housing costs are: people on fixed incomes, people with depleted savings due to medical bills, people who work low-paying jobs, people with mental health challenges and people who are struggling to find their way out of substance abuse.
Listings of apartments show a rapidly increasing price of market rate housing in Longmont. Added to that burden are the additional hurdles of scraping together first and last month’s rent, a security deposit and an application fee. Other individuals may be turned away from housing due to low credit, a lack of references, a criminal history or the fact that without regular access to storage and showers, the unfair stigma of homelessness follows them into a meeting with a potential landlord.
In order to be able to pay the absolute lowest end of what’s available to rent in Longmont and still afford basic necessities, an individual needs to make at least $40,000 per year. Working a minimum-wage, part-time job only nets about $10,500 a year.
But aren’t there services available for homeless individuals in Boulder County?
Yes, but there is an important gap that HOPE is trying to fill. If you are a homeless individual in Boulder County, you will be asked to go through a coordinated entry screening as part of the Homeless Solutions in Boulder County system. Those with higher needs are sent to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, where case managers help them find permanent supportive housing or another solution. Those with lower needs are referred to navigation services, which provides sheltering until another solution can be reached, such as reunification with family, guidance on employment and housing opportunities. In Longmont, HOPE and the OUR Center share the contract for navigation. HOPE operates the nightly navigation shelter and an emergency shelter on frigid nights.