Editorial: We need to start talking about the homeless issue in Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: We need to start talking about the homeless issue in Moffat County

David Muniz pushes his shopping cart in 2017 along U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Matt Stensland / File
Craig Press Editorial Board:
  • Sheli Steele, General Manager
  • Joshua Carney, Editor
  • Kandee Dilldine, community member
  • Randy Looper, community member

This year – more than any other year in recent memory – the homeless population here in Moffat County seems much larger and more visible.

One question that seems to arise often when it comes to the homeless issue in Moffat County is why is there such an explosion now? Could it be due to COVID-19 and the role the pandemic has played on people losing jobs and subsequently their living arrangements? Does it have anything to do with the 14th Judicial District ordering non-violent inmates to be released from the Moffat County Jail due to the pandemic with nowhere to go? Or does it have to do with Routt County being less tolerant on the homeless population, pushing them out of town and right down Highway 40 into Craig?

The answer is unclear at the moment, but one thing is for certain: Moffat County needs to figure out some sort of solution to cut down on the number of transients in our community.

We’ve seen that there’s really nothing the City of Craig Police Department and Moffat County Sheriff’s Office can do to the homeless population other than trespass them and move them out of their current location. We’re thankful law enforcement has stepped up in recent weeks to do just that, namely at the Post Office building and at the old Mining Company building on the 400 block of Taylor. However, that’s all they can do at the moment. The homeless population really can’t be evicted from where they’re squatting due to eviction and foreclosure restrictions in Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But trespassing those in the homeless population really doesn’t do anything other than move those out of that area into another location within the county for the time being.

Sort of like “out of sight, out of mind,” if you will. They’re not out of mind though because it’s a real issue within this community that has not been given the proper amount of attention.

If we can’t give these men and women a place to live, we need to send them out of town to cities with more resources available to them, like Denver or Grand Junction. Karen Brown from the Community Budget Center and Pat Jones from Love Inc. have done a great job purchasing bus tickets for some who have passed through town helping them on there way, but we as a community need to do more to take control of this growing problem.

There are no real options here for those on the streets, as the sustainability just isn’t there. Not only is it not safe to have homeless men and women living on the street in the middle of winter here in Moffat County, it’s not safe to let these men and women break into abandoned or vacant buildings, which then leads to calls for law enforcement, which is something the men and women of the Police Department and Sheriff’s Office don’t need to be dealing with.

Every community would love a perfect solution to the homeless problem as it rears its ugly head, but there just isn’t a perfect solution. Despite knowing that, it’s worth coming together as a community to devise some sort of plan to handle this issue that is growing within our community before it’s too late.

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