Homelessness on the rise in Grand Junction

The Grand Junction homeless population is rapidly increasing, but todays meeting to discuss the issues at hand was cancelled.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 6:44 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Western Slope residents have banded together under the name ‘Housing First: No More Deaths’ to stand up and unite homeless voices across the valley.

“I mean, it’s just getting out of hand. Its getting to be a humanitarian crisis, even the city, people in the city admit that,” said Glen Greuling, a minister with Green Faith ministries. He is also experiencing homelessness in Mesa County.

He’s referring to the rising homeless population in Grand Junction.

Greuling wants to know why the city canceled a third meeting focused on homeless people at Whitman Park, as well as those who provide meals.

“When I was a pup, I was raised in a group home,” said Grueling. “And that’s where everything’s done by concession. You know, you call sessions and everybody in the household hammers out the problem and you find solutions that way. Everybody’s a winner. You don’t, you don’t just have winners and losers, because that doesn’t work.”

Many houseless individuals expressed their concerns through the group ‘Housing First: No More Deaths.’ Greuling said he felt this was an attempt by the city to suppress free speech.

We reached out to the city to hear their perspective.

Last year a homeless survey was conducted to assess how the city of Grand Junction can support homeless needs. In December of 2022, Ashley Chambers, the housing manager for the city, said there’s more people without homes than there are beds.

“I think we have about 200 shelter beds in our community,” said Chambers. “We’ve, you know, even if we look at the point in time, 482, even if every person right now in our community wanted to be sheltered, there’s not enough beds in our community.”

In emails between city council members, Chambers said “I’m concerned that crisis level is fast approaching.”

The city expressed that cancelling the meeting was not an attempt to silence. They said there was a growing concern about the meeting being unproductive and hostile.

“Looking at the services in our community, we know that our homeless population is growing,” said Chambers. “And so we want to understand that better, we want to understand the unique needs of the population that lives here. And we really want to build out a plan and a strategy that addresses those concerns.”

Chambers fired off an email detailing why she believes crisis levels are fast approaching.

We’ll know next month about the city’s needs survey.

Chambers told top city leaders in an email that homelessness is rapidly increasing. A 45% increase from 2021 to 2022. An estimated 130 additional D51 students classify as homeless. The city estimates the grand total total population to be approximately 750.

For questions or further information, the public is welcome to email housing@gjcity.org.