2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

New, younger, homeless group hurting downtown image, coalition states

Published: September 24, 2013, 3:57 pm, by Ned Hunter

Tim O’Donnell is the spokesman for the Colorado Springs Downtown Residence Coalition.

The coalition represents about 70 residents who occupy downtown lofts.

O’Donnell said the city’s downtown homeless problem has taken on a new tone in recent weeks.

He said there are now two types of “homeless” occupying Acacia Park, Tejon Street and the rest of downtown. One is the “typical” homeless person, more than 25, quiet and knows where they can sleep and can’t and usually just hangs out.

The other group of homeless people, however, is a group who appears to “not care about the law,” O’Donnell said.

“They are true gypsies,” he said. “They are usually 15 to 25 and they run in packs and they vandalize, and we know for a fact they have been doing it, and when they come into town it is real problem.”

O’Donnell said this group of homeless used to hang out in Denver until law enforcement in that town “cracked down” on them.

“Then they moved down here,” he said.

The Downtown Residence Coalition works with several city groups in an effort to improve downtown’s image to attract new businesses and residents. He said the city has created a good base for downtown’s future growth through the addition of security cameras, flower boxes and the Nevada and Platte avenues round-about.

“We have the infrastructure in place,” he said, “and it’s a great start.”