Forum on homelessness asks: Move along to where?

Calls for solutions to address crisis in Denver
Posted at 9:49 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 01:01:48-05

DENVER -- A forum on homelessness in Denver aimed to answer one question Thursday night: "Move along to where?" It comes after a series of controversial sweeps and videos showing Denver Police officers taking blankets from the homeless.

The conversation was a call to action and request for more solutions to address what many are calling a crisis. Community leaders, elected officials and the homeless were part of a panel discussion in Denver's River North Neighborhood.

"Move along to where? Problem number one -- there is simply nowhere to move along to," said Ray Lyall with Denver Homeless Outloud.

Inside the homeless community, there are continued calls to repeal Denver's Urban Camping Ban. Petitions and letters to the mayor were circulated at the front door.

The city spends an estimated $47 million per year on homeless outreach services. In the past 24 months, Denver has provided housing to 1,046 chronically homeless individuals, including veterans.

"So that means that we listen to the folks who don’t want to use the shelter system and try to understand those barriers. We recently formed a shelter group to look at that process," said Julie Smith, spokesperson for the city.

Denver Police recently released a statement in response to videos that showed officers taking blankets from the homeless on November 29. The department explained it happened outside of the Denver City County Building when a group chose to protest by camping there. Police say the individuals refused offers for shelter and services.

The statement reads in part, "After several warnings, during an approximate four-hour period outside of the Denver City and County Building, three protesters chose to remain and were therefore cited."

Police have contacted more than 4,700 people related to unauthorized camping since the beginning of the year. The department says only nine unauthorized camping citations have been issued.


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