BOUDLER, Colo. – The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit Thursday against the City of Boulder over the enforcement of the city’s urban camping bans.
The ACLU said the lawsuit was filed on behalf of both housed and unhoused plaintiffs and specifically targets two Boulder ordinances that prohibit camping with the use of a tent on public property and sleeping outside while using a covering that is not clothing.
“In recent years, Boulder has slashed funding for shelter while it allocated millions of additional dollars to enforcing criminal laws against unhoused people. As a result, the ACLU argues, the City has effectively made it a crime for people experiencing homelessness to exist safely outdoors when they have nowhere else to go,” the ACLU said in a news release.
The ACLU also claims since last summer, the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless has turned away more than 250 people.
“There's a lot of stigma that surrounds homelessness,” said Jennifer Livovich, one of the plaintiffs of the lawsuit. “For far too long in Boulder, our camping ban, better referred to as our blanket ban, has been the City's response to the failure at the local, state and national levels to address the causes of homelessness.”
Livovich, who was once homeless herself, now runs a nonprofit called Feet Forward to help those in need. She calls Boulder’s ban cruel.
“Instead of helping those in need, the vast majority of those seeking assistance are either given meager help or none at all,” Livovich said.
In response to lawsuit, the City of Boulder sent Denver7 the following statement:
"We have just received the lawsuit and are reviewing it. The city will comment at the appropriate time through its filings in the court process."
Urban camping bans across the Front Range have faced legal challenges.
Denver’s ban, which has been in place for 10 years, has had a decade full of litigation. Most recently, a judge struck down a requirement that the City of Denver enforce homeless camping bans within 72 hours of receiving a complaint from a resident.
The City of Aurora passed an urban camping ban in March.