Resources and jobs can help make life a little easier on the street

‘You don’t want to give up’

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At 9 a.m. on Aug. 15, Lewis McConnell, Greg Bristow and Robin Delaney stood in a huddle on the library lawn after dropping off their laundry. Bristow offered the other two a doughnut, saying his diabetes prevented him from eating such a sugary treat. He gestured to a nearby walker, saying he also struggles with vertigo.

Bristow has been living on the streets in Denver for the last year. His daughter is pregnant, and he wanted to be around to help her, he said, but she didn’t have room for him to stay in her house.

Delaney and Bristow said they have used the Stout Street Health Center when struggling with medical issues as a homeless person. The clinic, located at 2130 Stout St., is run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.

“It’s not easy,” Bristow said.

Living as a homeless person with a disability, McConnell said he likes to keep up on all the resources available. He’s only been in Denver a few weeks, and had just heard about the laundry truck. He came from Kansas after trying to apply for Supplemental Security Income.

“I decided to go somewhere I might enjoy myself,” he said.

Denver’s Road Home, a branch of the city’s Human Services department, can be an important resource for people looking for shelters or other program information. The website has a comprehensive list of programs including meals, housing and medical locations.

After working as interim director of Denver’s Road Home for the past year, Chris Conner was appointed director in August. He previously worked with Urban Peak doing street outreach. Urban Peak specifically works with homeless youth in Denver.

At one point, Conner said, data showed Denver’s homeless population was growing at the same rate as the rest of the city’s population.

Denver’s Road Home is a partner of the Denver Day Works program, and Conner said that when the idea came to his desk he knew he wanted to fight for livable wages for participants. Conner said they are paying Day Works employees $12.59 an hour.

Living as a homeless person is a daily struggle. Delaney said he had to have a metal plate put in his arm after getting attacked and robbed. He also has sleep apnea. The Denver native has been homeless off and on since 2012. For him, a part of the struggle is to remember hope.

“You don’t want to give up,” Delaney said. “I would say in this environment it’s really easy for people to give up.”

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