Housing costs force some to streets
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY”It is not her resume detailing 20 years of experience in clerical work, the way she talks about her overweight cat as though he were her child, or even the way she looks that makes employers deem Dawn Rothschild undesirable as an employee.
It’s the fact that she’s homeless.
Home sweet home, for now, is a 1994 Ford Ranger pickup truck with an extended cab, Rothschild said.
“I know what the perception is, and that’s just not me,” Rothschild said. “I lost my job, haven’t been able to get a new one and I lost my apartment. I didn’t waste all my money on bad habits.”
There are many homeless ” loosely defined as anybody who lives in a car, a tent, on the street or living temporarily in other people’s homes ” who have substance abuse problems or mental health disorders, said Tsu Wolin-Brown, community caseworker for The Salvation Army.
There are more, however, whose problems are strictly financial and are aggravated by the high price of housing in Eagle County, Wollin-Browin said.
There were 56 homeless people in the county when the state did a one night spot count in August, said Director of Health and Human services Kate Forinash. Some who were living in tents or working may not have been included in the count.
“I am caught in the middle of not being able to get a job without an address, and not being able to get a home without a job,” Rothschild said. “It’s so frustrating when employers don’t hire me because they think I won’t show up. I’ve never missed work and that won’t change now.”
After losing her job in December, Rothschild came from Grand County, Colo., to Vail in the hopes of finding a new job with decent pay, she said. It’s a decision many people have made and paid the price for, Wolin-Brown said.
“People from out of state or who are not familiar with Vail think of it as the land of milk and honey,” Wolin-Brown said. “They come here excited to make $10 an hour instead of minimum wage, only to find out $10 can’t buy you a place to live up here or support a family.”
Three months after losing her job and having no where to live, Rothschild still lives out of her truck with her orange tabby cat Diego, and said it will be a while before she makes enough at her part-time, temporary job in Minturn before she’ll be able to afford a home.
“I’m so grateful my boss took a chance on me, but I need something more permanent and full-time,” Rothschild said. “I send out about 25 resumes a week, but nobody wants to hire you as soon as they find out your homeless.”
Not letting her situation get to her and constantly striving for better is all Rothschild said she can do for now ” hard as it may be.
“Sometimes I stay in different rest areas along Interstate 70, and once in a while I’ll stay at the rest stop in Edwards,” Rothschild said. “I have everything I need in there, but it is still very hard to accept. I want a home of my own.”
Of the 56 homeless people identified in August, 31 were members of a family with children, Forinash said.
Hard to believe in a valley that is so wealthy, Wolin-Brown said.
“People have a hard time imagining poor people in Vail, let alone homeless,” Wolin-Brown said. “They’re here and a lot of them are children, too. It just breaks your heart to think about innocent children out in the cold even if their parents screwed up.”
There are no homeless shelters in Eagle County, and transients are often given bus tickets to Denver or Grand Junction for assistance, Wolin-Brown said.
Others chose not to go, but are still offered services through the county such as food stamps and child care assistance. Others are not eligible for assistance.
“The counties in Colorado don’t seem to have the money to help single people in need,” Rothschild said. “If I had kids they could probably get help. I can’t even get food stamps without an address.”
Rothschild and any other person in need of food, emergency financial assistance or counseling can seek assistance at the Salvation Army, Wolin-Brown said.
Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.