Denver to clear out homeless camps, again

Sweeps outside shelters on Lawerence St.
Posted at 10:00 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 01:07:14-05

DENVER -- The homeless camps in Downtown Denver off Lawrence Street and Park Avenue West are back, and the city now plans to clean them up for the second time this year.

Denver sent out notices that all belongings must be removed by Nov. 15.

Crews swept the same camps in March, but eight months later even more sleeping bags, trash and grocery carts filled the sidewalks.

"It's flooded at night, it's overrun with people," said Kaz who is living on the streets.

"It's convenient for me to be down here to take advantage of all my resources," said Felicia Noelo, who is also homeless.

People who are living on the sidewalks said they simply have nowhere else to go.

"When you're being swept off blocks you're used to laying on, or alleyways that you're used to being warm in, you go to the one place you know," said Kaz.

However, next week all of their belongings must be gone or the city will move it again.

"It would be nice if people would come forward with some kind of options," said Noelo.

"They feel unwanted. They don't have a place to go," said Cathy Alderman with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Alderman said while she understands the need to clean the area up, she does not believe it's the right solution.

"Invest in more housing, take some actions to address the affordable housing crisis," she said.

The city said it's a public health threat for the homeless and those who live and work nearby.

"There's an awful lot of judging books by their covers," said Noelo.

"Enough is enough. We're people. We're humans. We don't deserve to be swept under a rug, swept in a sewer," said Kaz.

Denver Human Services sent Denver7 the following statement:

There is a growing number of people sleeping outside in the area of 21st, Park and Lawrence Streets.

Every encampment is different and the needs of every person are unique. But the city’s approach to connect the people who are living on the streets and help them to stabilize their lives has been consistent.

We have safe spaces during the day, we have beds open at night, we have services at the ready and we will remain focused on helping our people.

There are complex issues at play with the encampments.

·         There are health and safety concerns for people living outdoors.

·         There are health and safety concerns for those who live and work in the areas.

·         There are also serious public health concerns, drug use and illegal activity.

The city’s homeless outreach teams, as they have done with other encampments, have been working in the area three days a week to determine why people are not accessing shelter and services, to inform them that they cannot continue to sleep on the sidewalks and to determine the best ways we can assist them. City crews have also been removing hazardous waste and trash daily to keep the area clean.

These efforts are the city’s approach to keeping areas sanitary and safe for everyone. Through these efforts, our No. 1 priority is helping the people that we come in contact with to find the individualized assistance they need.



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