Officials at some Denver homeless shelters say the legalization of marijuana has contributed to an increase in the number of younger people living on the city’s streets.
One organization dealing with the increase is Urban Peak, which provides food, shelter and other services to homeless people aged 15 to 24 in Denver and Colorado Springs.
‘Of the new kids we’re seeing, the majority are saying they’re here because of the weed,’ deputy director Kendall Rames told The Denver Post. ‘They’re traveling through. It is very unfortunate.’
The Salvation Army’s single men’s shelter in Denver has been serving more homeless this summer, and officials have noted an increase in the number of 18- to 25-year-olds there.
The shelter housed an average of 225 each night last summer, but this summer it’s averaging 300 people per night.
No breakdown was available by age, but an informal survey found that about a quarter of the increase was related to marijuana, including people who moved hoping to find work in the marijuana industry, said Murray Flagg, divisional social services secretary for the Salvation Army’s Intermountain Division.
Some of the homeless have felony backgrounds that prevent them from working in pot shops and grow houses, which are regulated by the state, Flagg said.