COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Mayor John Suthers said he "applauds" Gov. Hickenlooper's plan to use marijuana tax money to fund new housing units for the homeless population across the state.
Hickenloopers proposal includes $12.3 million used toward building new housing units. Suthers said part of the reason he supports this plan is because of a recent study correlating marijuana use and homelessness.
"The states that have widespread access to medical marijuana have the highest per capital rate of homelessness," Suthers said. "I think the problem has worsened since the state legalized recreational marijuana."
Meet Tracy Knight and Albert Buckler
11 years ago Tracie Knight was forced out of her home and ever since she's struggled to stay safe on the streets.
"I've been attacked by dogs, wrecked behind by car, and hit on a bike by cars," said Knight.
Knight said now that it's cold out, it's harder to find some sort of roof over her head.
"Some of the stuff is just not sturdy enough for snow and you go underneath overpasses or other people's houses, garages, wherever you can find a spot," she said.
Albert Buckler has been homeless for five years with his dog Loretta. Buckler said the hardest part is begging for a place to stay.
"It's like being treated like a useless thing," Buckler said. "Sometimes it makes you feel like you should just go ahead and crawl into a dumpster, like you're a piece of trash."
Knight and Buckler said finding a permanent solution is a long way out.
"I'll bet you 60 percent or more of the people in this city are one paycheck away from being in my situation," Buckler said. "One missed paycheck and you can lose everything."
Springs Rescue Mission
The Springs Rescue Mission said they are able to accommodate 250 people overnight this year, compared to the 60 people last year.
Despite the increase in the number of beds, Springs Rescue Mission Vice President of Development Travis Williams said the need is still significant.
"Right now we have about 80,000 individuals living at or below the poverty line," Williams said. "And about 1,300 who identify as homeless."
SRM is creating an additional campus expected for fall of 2018 that will provide help with substance abuse and mental health.