[Hpn] Homeless victims mourned in Denver

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 23 Dec 2000 20:28:54 -0800 (PST)

FWD  Denver Post - Dec. 22, 2000


     Andrew Guy Jr.

     Denver Post Staff Writer

 -  It was cold. It was also the first day of winter, and four days before

 All of which added up to a point.

  "I know you all are cold," Jack Real of the Colorado Coalition for the
Homeless told the shivering crowd Thursday afternoon. "There are people out
there that are homeless in this type of weather."

 Denver was one of about 100 cities participating in the 10th Annual
National Homeless Person Memorial Day. Thursday's memorial in Denver, held
at the steps of the Denver City and County Building, had a special meaning:
It was a chance to memorialize the 58 homeless people who died in Colorado
over the past year.

 At Thursday's vigil, candles were lit, songs were sang. Poems were read.
And the names of the dead were read out loud.

 One by one.

  "There are some people in our city that do not have it as well as
others," Real said. "We live in a materialistic society, and we have an
economy that's doing well, and yet we have people who are homeless and

 Andrea Ferraro said she was homeless until she began living at the Delores
Project, a Denver homeless shelter for women. She said the biggest
misperception of homeless people is that they're responsible for their

  "I'm not the least bit ashamed of who I am," Ferraro said. "Being
homeless is a circumstance, usually a circumstance beyond a person's

 Mike McClure, a writer with the Denver Voice homeless newspaper, said many
of the those who died were just ordinary people caught in unfortunate
circumstances. McClure said that he, too, was homeless until recently.

 "I moved into a hotel a few months ago after spending about 15 months on
the streets," McClure said. "I hope I can continue to stay there, I hope I
can still pay the rent.

  "There is an amazing economic divide in this country. When a person falls
on the wrong side of that economic divide, as a lot of homeless people do,
they are treated as if they're not deserving of the same human needs as
everyone else."  Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth told those in
attendance that they should make the City Council accountable to the city's

  "There are 13 people who meet on the fourth floor of this building,"
Wedgeworth said. "It's up to you to make sure they are doing what they need
to do. We have to try harder to solve the homeless issue, but it's never
going to be enough. We have to continue working on this."  Denver Mayor
Wellington Webb agreed.

  "We must be compassionate. We must be aggressive. We must be forceful in
trying to solve this issue," Webb said.

 Geraldine Sandoval said even a college degree couldn't prevent her from
being homeless.

  "I have a college education," Sandoval said. "But that didn't help. I
just wish they'd do something about affordable housing in this city."


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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