Escaping the streets can be a struggle


Darin Barton likes Golden so that is where he chooses to live — even though he’s homeless.

Single men “literally have nowhere to go, except to Denver,” Barton said. “And I don’t want to be around the yahoos in Denver.”

Barton, 44, has been homeless in Golden since about 2014. He came to Colorado with a woman he met in Wyoming, following a 15-year career with a traveling carnival.

The two were staying in a motel on West Colfax and Barton found work with a temporary agency doing day labor jobs.

“One day I came home, and all her stuff, my stuff, and she was gone,” Barton said. “I never heard from her again. I have no idea why she left.”

After walking up and down Colfax every day for about a month, with no luck finding a more permanent job, Barton got on a bus to Golden. He ended up finding work doing odd jobs — shoveling snow and other lawn care work — for a local mechanic and a local church.

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Last summer, Barton decided to inquire in a Golden restaurant about a help wanted sign he saw in the window.

“I was told they needed a dishwasher Monday through Friday. I said `OK, I have experience and availability,’ ” Barton said. But “as he reached for a job application, I honestly told him I’m homeless. He told me, `no,’ he would not hire me three times to my face. Not even gonna give me a chance.”

This was not the first time potential employers have reacted that way, Barton said.

But while out panhandling one day last year, Barton met a man who offered him a job selling frozen meat out of his truck. Barton accepted.

Later, the man offered Barton a room to rent in his home in south Denver for $30 a month.

“Of course, I jumped on that, because you can’t even rent a motel room for that,” Barton said.

Late last year, Barton got a job at a Village Inn near his residence but after only a couple of months working there, he injured his shoulder taking out the trash. He is in the process of filing for workman’s compensation. And an argument with his landlord, he said, led to a parting of the ways.

Barton returned to the streets of Golden and is again doing odd jobs for the church and the mechanic.

For many drug addicts and alcoholics, homelessness is a never-ending cycle, Barton said.

But “to the public, we’re all criminals,” Barton said. “Homelessness is going to be a never-ending battle until the police and the community are educated about homelessness. We’re not all criminals. Programs need to be designed to bring people up, rather than keep them down.”

Barton has dreams to open and operate a shelter — a program where the homeless can receive resources and go through a step-by-step process to get back on their feet within a three-year time period.

Right now though, Barton doesn’t have anything like that to help him to get off the streets, and he doesn’t know what the future holds.

But he knows one thing for certain:

“I do not want to be on the streets when this winter hits.”


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