All the flush folks in Denver love Christmas a lot,
But this grinch contemplating the mean streets DOES NOT!
It’s not that the lights on the mansions aren’t dope.
In fact, they are brilliant and give us all hope.
The candles aflicker, the parties all rocking
Bring warmth that won’t fit in just any old stocking.
It’s fun, I admit it, and good for the heart,
But we’re all total Scrooges if we miss this part:
Last winter a team crossed the city, ’the burbs
To count all the people asleep on the curbs.
They looked in the faces of kids, moms and dads
And tried to make sense of the lives that they had.
The data were shocking; the numbers were clear.
The homelessness problem gets worse every year.
The total was five, seven hundred five five
All ages, all races, some barely alive.
And then in the springtime the voters were asked
To allow them to camp in the parks on the grass.
The measure, 300, got a real shellacking
And voters demanded street people get packing.
The camps are a bummer. They’re dirty, they said.
The people need housing, a warm and safe bed.
We sure can do better, the no campaign crowed.
And then it did nothing. It rained and it snowed.
The City of Denver stepped up in a way
To build homeless shelters, hide campers away.
But, even 10 million or more’s not enough
To house all the people, their kids and their stuff.
It takes some real vision, some work and some guts
To make sure developers don’t drive us nuts.
Put the brakes on the luxury market and say,
“If we don’t pay attention we’ll look like LA.”
We need simple houses, apartments, all this so
We don’t end up suff’ring just like San Francisco.
The problem is big and solutions aren’t easy.
In just the last decade the trends make me queasy.
Among all the cities where home prices soared,
Our hometown of Denver was worst ’cross the board.
The cost of home-buying or even to rent
Since 2007 jumped 80 PERCENT!
No wonder the grads and the fresh newlyweds
Move in with their parents, back to their old beds.
They want their own places. They dream life’s a beach.
But two grand a month is just way out of reach.
While for them it’s a hassle and far, far from fun,
It’s warm and it’s safe and as cheap as can be.
Not like the ’Nam veterans asleep in the sun
Left broken and homeless with PTSD.
The fam’lies out living in vans and in cars
Asleep behind bushes or under the stars
Are told if they’re lucky in time they might get
A tiny house with Barbie-sized kitchenette.
The problem’s not hopeless. It just takes a plan
To see that each neighborhood does its fair share.
Save room for apartments for low-income fams,
Make sure that they’re welcome and know that we care.
Then when you see that on Earth there’s a reason
That in every culture in time there’s a season
For giving and sharing and helping each other,
For hugging your children, your father, your mother,
For singing a carol and lighting a candle,
Enjoying all of the good cheer you can handle,
For frying some latkes and trimming a tree,
For lending a hand to a neighbor in need.
So, it’s time for a toast and a new resolution,
For making a promise that this time we’ll keep
To be open-minded, part of the solution,
To ensure that we all have a warm place to sleep.
Here’s to nog, here’s to glogg, here’s to Christmas fruitcake.
Here’s to solstice and Kwanzaa and Hanukkah lights.
Here’s to being together for memories’ sake.
Here’s to love and to peace
And to ALL a good night.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant (and a big fan of Dr. Seuss).