Glenwood homeless, transient concerns set for discussion | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood homeless, transient concerns set for discussion

A tent sits in one of the homeless camps on the hillside above Walmart in south Glenwood Springs.

After Glenwood Springs' local officials, residents and charitable organizations chimed in recently regarding the community's homeless and transient populations, a meeting to further discuss the topic now has a set date.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 31 at the Garfield County Administration building in Glenwood Springs, in the county commissioners meeting room.

When discussing the issue of homeless and transient populations in and around Glenwood Springs at a recent City Council meeting, County Commissioner John Martin commented, "It is the providers of service that are the problem, and we need to go ahead and alert them. …"

Martin, who offered to organize the follow-up meeting, told the Post Independent on Tuesday, "Well, yeah, but you didn't finish the statement … when you cut the first and last part of the answer off, yeah it sounds like I'm pretty cold in reference to that."

The whole sentence Martin stated at the April 19 Glenwood Council meeting was, "All those stakeholders will be at the table, we want to work together to do it, but you're right, it is the providers of service that are the problem and we need to go ahead and alert them and find a different solution than what we have right now."

The homeless and transient populations, and anyone for that matter, may attend the meeting, as it's open to the public.

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"Everyone is welcome to see a BOCC meeting. We don't hold meetings in the dark," Martin said.

Feed My Sheep Director Karen Peppers said Tuesday she hadn't heard about the meeting yet, but would plan to attend.

"I'll just have to switch my schedule around for that one, because we have to be represented in there," she said.

"I don't know how many calls saying that, 'Karen, if this comes to a city meeting, I'll be your advocate,'" Peppers said. "So, I'll be calling all my advocates that have contacted me, and we'll just have a bunch of us up there and try to get it through everybody's thick skull that, you know, Feed My Sheep is here to help people, not enable them as everybody thinks we do."

Feed My Sheep and another area organization, LIFT-UP, serve the local homeless and transient populations in different ways, providing food, shelter and other needs.

LIFT-UP's acting director, Debbie Wilde, also hadn't heard anything yet regarding next Thursday's meeting.

At the April 19 city meeting, Mayor Michael Gamba also observed, "There's been a lot of people who have suggested that some of the charitable organizations that provide services for these transient groups are part of the problem."

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson explained, "One of the consistent factors that I found when we talked to communities that describe having very little to no issues … is the complete and utter lack of services that their community offers to that demographic."

According to Commissioner Martin, the homeless and transient demographics that exist now in Glenwood Springs remains proportionate to the population, as it did at the turn of the century 18 years ago.

"It's a mixed bag. It's not all one classification for sure," Martin said. "We need to come together to accomplish something instead of just talking and having hot air. So that's what the meeting's about."