Nizhoni is a Native woman from New Mexico who moved to Denver several years ago. “People give us money, socks, gift cards, clothing…you’ve got the light rail, buses, I get a monthly bus pass.” When she first arrived she worked at KFC, but has since lost her job.
Although she loves Denver and its people, it is challenging to live here. “You are limited in the places you can sleep. Security will wake you up and tell you to leave. You try to find a secure place but then security will chase you off, no matter how cold it is, or if it is raining.”
For Nizhoni, Yes on 300 will mean feeling welcome in a city she loves.
“I grew up in Curtis Park. This is my neighborhood.”
Miguel has been in a wheelchair for about three years. “I stay on the streets now, pretty much in front of the mission—the sleeping quarters upstairs are not wheel chair accessible. I grew up in Curtis Park. This is my neighborhood. It’s been a financial strain because I get no money. I’m not getting food stamps. No ID. All my stuff has been stolen, twice.
"Out here I’ve got friends I consider family, we’re all out here struggling together. All going through the same things.”
For Miguel, Yes on 300 would mean not having to “move along” from his lifelong home.
“I’m staying here because my mom is here. I’m support for her.”
Jensine was born and raised in Denver, and went to high school in Westminster. She wanted to graduate high school, but dropped out sophomore year and ran away to escape her abusive father. Jensine stays in Denver for her mother, who can’t afford medication for her medical condition. She is a self-taught musician and makes money playing her guitar.
Jensine likes staying by the Greyhound station where the vents offer warmth, but knows that it’s never safe to be alone. She sleeps with large groups whenever possible, and gets harassed by the police every night, no matter where she goes.
For Jensine, Yes on 300 would mean not constantly having to defend herself from harassment.
Monica grew up as an Air Force brat, moving every few years, but Colorado is her home. She’s worked all her life, but has had trouble finding jobs lately. She’s on housing lists, but expects it could take a while to get housing. Her kids are all over the country; they stay in touch with FaceBook.
Monica was raped after police forced her to move from a safe spot. Since then, she’s suffered from anxiety: “[Y]our mind messes with you so bad, and you know, it won’t let you forget. It won’t let you resolve yourself to what’s happened, and [that] everything’s going to be okay – your resolve isn’t there…it’s really hard for me to talk.” She and her friends support each other, keep each other safe, and help each other out however they can.
“Everything went downhill ever since I lost my wife. So, I am working on picking myself up right now.”
Mark is a member of the Dineh (Navajo) tribe. He served eight years in the Marine Corps and then became a New Mexico State Police officer.
Mark and his wife moved from New Mexico to Longmont, and he came to Denver after she died in October of 2014. He has lost many family members—his grandmother, brother, niece—but his wife’s death has been the hardest.
For Mark, Yes on 300 would make it easier to pick himself up.
“I just felt like if we had a place to sit down and rest that things would just be better for us.”
Mark has been homeless, off and on, since he was 11 years old. He’s now writing a book on political scandals in Arapahoe County. Jessica had been renting a tiny apartment, but lost her place, and says that the anxiety and stress is taking a toll.
When Mark and Jessica had their bike taken by police, they built a new one out of pieces that had been thrown away—with a seat for him, her and their dog Chico. “The police stole my bike. For this new bike, we found pieces of it behind a dumpster in Glendale. We put it together, and I can ride her in the front, a chariot! The dog has a home in the back. As we were getting ready to go live in the streets, I didn’t want Chico to have to feel the strain of it, so I made him the best seat in the house. I just felt like if we had a place to sit down and rest that things would just be better for us.”
For Mark and Jessica, Yes on 300 would mean not having to worry about losing their bike.