Homeless In America

Real Estate Agent with Real Estate Showcase Photography


Homeless In America

"There but for the grace of God, go I" - attributed to John Bradford, 16th Century

In any given night in America, 700,000 to 2 million people have no home to go to. Staggering statistic? Yes. And these numbers were from 1996.

In Colorado Springs, Fountain Creek runs parallel to Interstate 25.
It has become 'home' to many of the city's considerable homeless population. It is estimated that Colorado Spring's chronic homeless number about 350 persons, and about 750 more have joined the homeless population due to job loss. That puts the number of people living on the streets, or along the creek bed, at approximately 1100.

Homeless in America

Local Shelters are filled to capacity, and while the city struggles to find a solution, the homeless camps remain. Some cities around the country are providing basic services to their 'tent cities' on public land, such as portable toilets, (which I saw today at a few of the camps I photographed), trash pick up, firewood, and mobile medical vans.

Homeless in America

A few of the homeless are there because they want to be. Most are not.

Homeless in America


Homeless in America

Why not designate an area, provide the needed services, and give these people a place to live with some dignity while we all await better times?

Homeless in America

Proudly, in just 24 hours, we as Americans donated 10 million dollars to the relief effort in Haiti.

Homeless in America

Granted, it's not on the same scale, but are the fast growing tent cities across America not also a crisis?

Homeless in America

Statistics show that most homeless are men. But more and more women and children are joining them as families lose their jobs, and with them, the ability to pay rent. This is a cold, and dangerous way to live.

While I took these photos in Colorado Springs, I'm sure they are indiscernible from any other city in the country.

Blog Update:

While researching statistics for this post, (very little current data exists), I ran across an online book by Kenneth Churchill, called the American Homeless Land Model.  On the very first page, I read something that I had never considered before.  I emailed Mr. Churchill asking permission to use it in this post.  I wrote this post before hearing back from him.  I am printing this shocking truth now, with his permission:

"The law forbids the common lands as a place of abode for the accruement of resources and the protection of life and property. There is not one square foot of land in the United States where a homeless person can stand, for a moment in time, legally. It does not exist. Homelessness is unlawful. A Homeless person's existence is unlawful. Their homelessness status is a condition of perpetual criminality. They are continually on someone else's land; inevitably asked to move on to some illusory lawful destination, presumed to exist, but never found."

I would also like to add that I emailed our local Pikes Peak Association of Realtors today, and received a swift reply of support for a call to action among our 3,000 members.

Contact your local board!

Question - What is NAR doing to help?


Comments (166)

Bob Sweazy
Prudential A. S. de Movellan Real Estate - Lexington, KY

Great post! It is sad to see our growing homelessness problem, with no solution in sight.

Jan 22, 2010 01:05 AM
Fred Sweezer Sr. CMI, LLC.
Hud Certified 203K Consultant - Long Beach, CA
Certified Home Inspector

What we have left off doing is gleaning as in biblical times, a certain percentage of the fields was not to be cleaned or harvested bear, but was to allow poor and homeless to harvest the remaining crops as required.

The gleanings were to be left "for the alien resident, for the fatherless boy and for the widow." (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) The Law of Moses specified: "You people must not afflict any widow or fatherless boy." (Exodus 22:22, 23) The widows and orphans spoken of in the Bible appropriately represented the poorer people, since upon the death of the husband and father or of both parents, the surviving family members might be left alone and destitute. The patriarch Job stated: "I would rescue the afflicted one crying for help, and the fatherless boy and anyone that had no helper."-Job 29:12

Thanks Debi, That is a great post

Jan 22, 2010 06:27 AM
Sharon McConnell


Great post!

This is all soooo true, that along with men, homless numbers are rising for women and children. One more very vunerable group is pregnant women. How sad and scary is that.

Recently I have had the priveledge of helping a mom and her baby. Luckily, she was able to get into a transitional shelter before the baby was due. After 2 months and successfully completing their program, she was able to obtain an apartment in a local low housing complex in Sellersville, PA. With the help of donations from Deserving Decor,  I was able to provide her with a place that feels like her home and not just a place to live.



Jan 22, 2010 07:29 AM
Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team
Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team - Coral Springs, FL
Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise!

Here in Southeast Florida while I travel the communities, I am noticing more and more distress.  A man (who looked in his late 30's, early 40's) the other day on a corner, holding a sign that said, "Family in Crisis".

Signs that say, "Please Help, Just want to Work!".  One tried to add levity or maybe he was serious said, "Why Lie - It's For Beer".  He probably got the most support from the 20 somethings.

Age doesn't matter...this is a crisis for too many.  Joy

Jan 22, 2010 12:34 PM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Your thoughts and your stories touch my heart. I am overwhelmed by the response to this post. If each of us does some small, or not so small part, in our own communities, think how much difference it could make to someone out there that is praying for help. The help they need to get back on their feet after losing their job, losing their home.

Contact local organizations that are doing what they can, and do what you can. Spread the word that you'd like to see all this outpouring of help here at home, too.


Jan 22, 2010 12:55 PM
Sybil Campbell
Fernandina Beach, FL
Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida

Homelessness is a tragedy. I am all for NAR (and its members) helping the homeless.

Jan 22, 2010 05:15 PM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Me too. It is after all, a national issue. Thanks for stopping by Sybil.


Jan 23, 2010 01:48 PM
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

Last summer, I visited America the Beautiful Park, here in Colorado Springs.  I had not been before, and of course took my camera to capture the spectacular water sculpture/fountain, and the children playing in it.  Then we followed the trail that surrounds the park, but also leads to the trail that runs along the river.  The hubs and I were walking along, having a conversation, when we noticed a man sitting along the edge, his eyes darting back and forth at us, and space.  We were immediately uncomfortable, but continued.  Shortly, we saw the men along the river. A dozen or more, sitting in small groups, no tents yet, but the beginnings of the issue that you photographed now 6 months later.  We were struck with how these men, sitting along the river, hidden by the trees, were in earshot and eyesight of literally hundreds of people in the park, picnicking, playing, riding bikes, enjoying a the day.  When we left the park, (on our motorcycle) we saw a family of four, sitting on the loading dock of a warehouse. They were waiting for the shelter to open.  We went home, and got into our car, and went to the ATM and got money.  We went back to the loading dock, but they were gone.  We went to the shelter, but they were not there either. As you stated, "There but for the grace of God, go I..."

Jan 24, 2010 04:58 PM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hi Cheryl - The 4th photo was taken behind the park. A convenient place, as the park has restrooms. I saw several large trash bags, neatly tied up, along the top of the river bank, apparently awaiting pick up by someone.

Jan 25, 2010 02:43 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

We need to take care of our own first. We can go to war and build bombers on a moments notice, but show some charity at home, no way!

Jan 25, 2010 02:30 PM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Our charity at home is limited to what small organizations, often not coordinating with each other can do. I feel we need to look at this from a broader viewpoint, on a national level.

Jan 26, 2010 02:09 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

One of our weekly newsmagazines did an exposé in 1994 on the homeless in San Diego. Interestingly, three out of four enjoyed being "homeless." They didn't have to go to work, could sleep in, could stay out as late as they wanted, didn't have to pay any bills, didn't have to pay income tax, didn't have to take care of anyone else. All they had to do was make enough money each day to buy some food.

On the other side of the coin, I visited Washington, D.C., back in 1982. Spent a week touring the town, and my hotel was not far from the Mall. Each day the same people were at the same spot asking for quarters, and I always gave them some. I bought a paper to read on the airplane back to Texas and there was an exposé on the homeless on the Mall. Some of those homeless were making $40,000 a year from quarters. That was a pretty darn good salary in 1982, and they didn't have to pay income taxes on it.

I no longer contribute directly to the homeless anymore. Instead I give to charities that work with the homeless who don't want to be homeless. You can't tell which ones those are simply by going out and looking at the tent cities.

Jan 31, 2010 04:24 AM
Gloria Todor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Newtown Square, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Debi, yes you touched on a nerve with many who are concerned, thank you.  Just go to Washington DC and see the marble buildings and the boarded up houses so close to each other....or to Southern California and see mirgrant workers in the fields bent over for hours on end picking strawberries in the blazing sun as many drive by in their air conditoned sports cars not noticing.... our country has it all, but as your post points out, the "have nots" are becoming more and more.   Thanks for your call to action with NAR.   ----Gloria

Feb 01, 2010 02:04 PM
Randy G. Morley
The Home Brokers, Inc. - Colorado Springs, CO

Russell... One must remember that the statistics change,.. what was is not an indicator of what is. It must also be remembered that the reports are scued by those reporting. Even if those reports were true in 1994 and 1982,.. they are not true today and certainly are not limited to the laws of Newton.

1982 and 1994 were boom times and jobs were plentiful,.. today,.. that simply is NOT the case. Much if not the majority of our current homeless were our neighbors yesterday,.. they are the people down the block who's job was outsourced, or who's company folded,.. who lost their home or could not cover their rent. Who have gone through whatever emergency funds they had available and now have no other alternative.

Are there those who "choose" their lifestyle,.. absolutely,.. but we do our citizens an injustice when we assume that all are the same and that they by in large are "happy" with their lifestyle. We need, as a nation, not to provide "for" them, thereby simply adding to the problem,.. but we do need to provide a way for those who choose to,.. to climb out of the situation that they are in. Something that simply is not available today.

We offer no solutions, and in our area,.. simply want to outlaw camping on public grounds,.. sweep them under the rug and get them out of site,.. let's "pretend" to be perfect and have no problems.

That is not the solution, nor is it consistant with who we are as a people,.. if we have a problem,.. let's address it and correct it. We don't sweep it under the rug or bury our heads in the sand,.. and we certainly don't take the words of a few and assume they speak for an entire population,.. that would be the same as assuming that every inspector was worthless because the last one hired was,.. or every Realtor was sleazy because of the one that was.

Can I hear an Amen??

Feb 02, 2010 03:50 AM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours


Feb 02, 2010 04:12 AM
Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux
Keller Williams Suburban Realty - West Orange, NJ
Where Buying & Selling Works

For some reason we are able to pass a homeless person in the street and say 'shame on them' but see suffering people around the world and run. But at the same time, in this case, the devastation was so high that it was too hard to turn away. But I have been torn lately because I gave to Haiti and can't give to other local needs right now.

Feb 11, 2010 07:49 AM
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hi Bev - I understand what you're saying. We are always faced with choices - some harder than others. Often, we would rather not  have to make  a choice - and just go with it.


Feb 11, 2010 10:59 AM
Michele Rose
Rose-Colored Staging - Mount Holly Township, NJ
Burlington County Home Staging & Redesign

Debi, thanks for bringing more awareness to this growing problem.  Your article is beautifully compassionate and has touched many hearts.  Thank you!

May 16, 2010 09:42 AM
joan leogrande

Please numbers help speak volumes. We as a people lose steam, momentum when we should gain traction. The camps in your state grow, there are countless not seen county by county state by state. We have an epidemic now and we must be heard, your voices help. Please urge you local, county, state to read and legally set aside land not in use for this purpose.did you know a mini home can be built under 1,000.00 has heat, cooking more. A shelter run in n.y. By Dss at minimal 75.00 to 100.00 per night in ten days the above is built and paid for.also on his page. Please be heard and gain traction, don't forget his idea or him. Thanks so much! Joan

Dec 11, 2016 02:49 AM
joan leogrande

2016 about 7-8 million homes empty still. That's enough to house every homeless person and then some!

Dec 11, 2016 02:58 AM