Rising numbers of homeless at Auraria Campus poses new problem


Posted Wed, May 13, 2015

A homeless man sits across the street from MSU Denver’s Science Building. [Photo: Chris Bjork]

A homeless man sits across the street from MSU Denver’s Science Building. [Photo: Chris Bjork]

DENVER, Auraria Campus –The growing homeless demographic of Denver has become more apparent with each semester for the students at Auraria campus. With up to 42,000 students walking across the Tivoli Commons to get to class every single day, Auraria is easily one of the most bustling college campuses in the state.

The enormous layout between the three educational institutions MSU Denver, University of Colorado – Denver and Community college of Denver adjacent to the city, has made Auraria campus vulnerable to this growing problem. The outcome from more homeless people around campus has resulted in some potential liabilities and disadvantages for the students, staff and law enforcement at Auraria.

Non-Affiliated Visitors

In the 2015 spring semester alone, it hasn’t been out of the ordinary for there to be up to three or four trespassing citations and arrests given every week to the non-affiliated visitors on campus, the majority being homeless. With such a large student body at Auraria, law enforcement already has their hands tied with monitoring and maintaining safety for the students and staff at Auraria.

“Our focus should be on crime prevention not just crime response, but with this homeless problem, the scope of it is so much bigger than the resources I have,” said Chief of Police at Auraria, Michael J. Phibbs. “I could come up with the greatest prevention programs in the world for homeless people, but my population is the 50,000 people who go to school and work here and then I got this couple hundred people that come on campus that we have to deal with. The thousands of them that are across the street in Denver or the rest of the area; we don’t have the resources with the ability to deal with that.”

The homeless problem at Auraria has become such an issue that it has begun to manifest itself in other forms as well. The homeless population from the city who are traversing to the campus property aren’t the only category of people behind this growing issue.

Student Homelessness

“There’s a lot of students that are homeless here. Every college, has their own food pantry stocked up each month for the students of their school and every one of them will tell you they’ll never make it to the end of the month,” said Voice activist John Alexander. Voice is a non-profit organization that focuses on educating the citizens and visitors of Denver about the homeless and the reality of their struggles.

Alexander has worked for Voice for seven years and is very familiar with the homeless problem at Auraria. “On the other hand you got the homeless that come through here, that hustle the students and everything else, plus they get care from the church that’s on the property here. One set has a right to be here, there’s another set I don’t think the school has a responsibility to be providing for what the city should be doing,” Alexander said.

Relief Efforts

What makes a conflict like this so challenging is discovering the most responsible methods of relief for the homeless around Auraria. It’s apparent that there is still a portion of the Homeless residing at Auraria who actually deserve the various beacons of support the schools and churches provide. Relief efforts such as annual coat drives, food banks for the students who need it and the free lunches provided daily from Saint Elizabeth’s Church help to relieve some of the pressure the homeless live with at Auraria.

“The homeless problem is a problem for us,” Phibbs said, “and we try to balance it out with what people’s legal rights are to be here and the safety concerns we have and the sanitary concerns we have.”

The homeless problem encompasses every member of the community surrounding Auraria; from the students with whom some are facing homelessness themselves, to the staff, law enforcement and visitors of the campus as well. It’s important that people stay informed with a problem of this magnitude because it reflects a comfort and safety issue for a lot of people on campus. However, with new relief effort organizations around campus beginning to make their presence known, along with a progressing informed public, it appears that finding a long term solution to the homeless problem at Auraria bares promise.


3 Responses to “Rising numbers of homeless at Auraria Campus poses new problem”

  1. Dylan Palm-Trujillo Says:

    Bro I was just talking about this with my mom the other day I think you could added something like talking with City of Denver about this problem since you talked about them.


    • Skip Says:

      , from what I can figure out(from high schoolSpanish omg40yearsago) that I need permission to access, or enter, or something? I have to ask for permission to use soin?hmegtAnyway, hope you can help.Cheers!Cathy W.


  2. Mathew Says:

    I just got done writing an email the AHEC (Auraria Higher Education Center) about this. it is now 2019 and I can say this problem has gone from bad to worse!


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