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Aurora's Martin Luther King Jr. Library employees see increase in homeless people living outside front doors

Posted at 7:59 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 09:59:01-04

AURORA, Colo. — An employee at Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Aurora says she and other co-workers have reached a breaking point both mentally and emotionally when it comes to the homeless individuals outside the library's doors.

"I don’t think you should leave any job and feel haunted," said one employee, who did not want to be identified. "But to leave the library and go home at night and all you can hear are the flashbacks of screams or seeing someone punched in the face..."

She was speaking about the increase in people experiencing homelessness who have started living right outside the library’s front doors.

"I have seen violence, sexual assault," the woman said. "Just this last week, there was a beating where a woman — she was beaten unconscious by three other women and when we called police and they came, we showed them pictures that we had taken on our phone. They had promised to call us back and that never happened."

She said the increase in trash, drug use and violence are also leading to less people visiting the library.

"We get calls, 'Can you please send my books to another library? You’re my neighborhood library, but I’m too afraid to come in.' We get calls of, 'Why aren’t you guys doing anything about this?' It’s taking a toll on everybody, the patrons and the staff," the employee said.

The City of Aurora confirmed library staff have brought up their concerns to directors.

Interim Director of the city of Aurora's Housing and Community Services Department Nancy Sheffield said they are meeting this week to determine the best course of action.

“It has come to our attention that some individuals have returned to this area, and we plan to send our outreach team out once again to offer transportation to the Aurora Day Resource Center where counselors, resources and other services are available," Sheffield said.

The anonymous employee said staff isn't looking for a perfect solution.

"We know where we are, we know the community that we serve, but what we are looking for is safety," she said.