Could America’s homeless population be saved with legal marijuana?
Tax revenues from marijuana sales are already being used to upgrade and build new schools. Colorado’s third largest city has decided to use a portion of taxes derived from marijuana sales to combat homelessness. The Aurora Sentinel has reported that city officials expect to collect $4.5 million worth of taxes from marijuana sales in 2017 and 2018. Of the $4.5 million, $1.5 million will be directed toward improving the lives of Aurora’s homeless population.
Last month, the city agreed to provide $220,000 of the approved funds to the Colfax Community Network. The non-profit organization focuses on providing low-income families living in transient and motel housing on Aurora’s Colfax Avenue. However, the organization has struggled to keep afloat. “The Colfax Community Network is in extremely dire straits in that they do not have funds to continue operating,” said Nancy Sheffield, director of Aurora neighborhood services told the Aurora Sentinel.
Additionally, the city expects to purchase several vans that will be used for homeless outreach. The city is considering how to best spend additional funds to help improve the situation.
The effort comes at a time where homelessness is on the rise in many parts of the country. Several months ago, the U.S. Conference Of Mayors held their annual meeting. The group’s annual Hunger and Homelessness Survey found that 22 cities are finding extreme difficulty in keeping up with demand for homeless shelters and food pantries. Homelessness rose 1.6% overall in the 22 cities that were included in the survey. Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington D.C. saw an even more dramatic rise in the numbers.
Marijuana tax revenues are only expected to grow in the coming years. This could provide the opportunity for more cities to find a viable solution to effectively combat the epidemic of homelessness.