Homeless community in Fort Collins create tent city across the way from temporary indoor shelter

Posted at 7:09 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 21:11:28-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The small park across Northside Aztlan Community Center in Fort Collins is drastically changing.

Once a place, people would walk their dogs turned into a tent city with dozens of homeless people and all of their belongings. Tony Adams says he has been living in the outdoor shelter now for five weeks.

"The people are crying for help, but there's nobody listening. They may be the homeless, but they're still people, and we are forced to live in this situation. They put a tape on the backside of this encampment. Nobody is allowed to pitch their tent or sleep on the other side of that ribbon," Adams said.

Fort Collins city officials said they opened the community center as a men's shelter in March. Still, they started seeing tents go up in the park across the facility despite the fact the shelter has room to accommodate those choosing to sleep outdoors.

Without any other choices, Director of Social Sustainability, Beth Sowder, says they decided to designate a space outdoors where they could stay.

"As many of us have the opportunity to quarantine at home, people experiencing homelessness don't have a home to quarantine of self-isolate in. They have a larger space in [Northside Aztlan Community Center] to have shelter indoors but could also choose to stay outdoors where they can self-isolate," Sowder said.

The increased amount of people has also come with an increase in crime.

Fort Collins police say they've been called out to the area more frequently and plan on having 24/7 patrols along with security cameras.

The chief of police says they're working with service providers to communicate and enforce conduct expectations for those using the temporary outdoor shelter.