2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

A problem that demands attention

Published: June 13, 2014, 10:42 am, by interns

By Katherine Blunt

As I exited the Gazette building one recent evening, I was approached by a man who was looking for his brother. He needed to find him and help him, he said, for it was the right thing to do.

The man’s name was Brett, and it seems his brother was nowhere to be found. Brett, slurring his words and smelling of whiskey, gestured vaguely when I asked him where his brother lived.

Brett, saddled with a large red bag worn high on his back, swayed slightly and began to speak. He lost track of his brother, he explained, somewhere along the twisted path that brought him west from rural Iowa to the urban confines of Colorado Springs. What once began as an adventure ends with Brett shuffling up and down Tejon Street, alone.

He fished in his pocket and produced a crumpled dollar bill, some pennies, and lighter.

“Here,” he said, extending his hand to me. “You can have this if you want.”

“Keep it,” I said. “Please.”

“You’re so nice,” he replied. “Everyone here is so nice.

During our time here at the Gazette, we have the opportunity to contribute to a reporting project on homelessness in the area. When I first learned of the topic, I thought it was perhaps a bit unambitious, for homelessness is a problem almost everywhere. But after spending just one afternoon in the city, I realized my initial reaction was woefully uninformed.

In some cities, the homeless, dwarfed by skyscrapers and camouflaged in city grime, fade into the background. But in sunny Colorado Springs, where only the Rockies reach higher than 20 stories, the problem cannot be ignored. Brett, lost yet willing to offer his last dollar to a stranger, cannot be ignored. I can’t wait to get started on the project.

Katherine Blunt is an undergraduate at Elon University. Follow her at @blunt_gazette