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'It's a bad look for Denver': Business owners say RV, trash situation in south Denver has worsened

RVs in Ruby Hill
Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 20:30:25-04

DENVER — Business owners in Denver's Ruby Hill neighborhood say the RV and trash situation has only gotten worse since Denver7 first reported on the problem just two weeks ago.

"Some people are actually down on their luck, but most of these people are young, healthy males or females that could totally be working," Mark Holligan said Friday.

Holligan works along South Huron Street, where it appears the number of people living in RVs has grown, along with other streets nearby.

"We're tired of the needles, the bottles of urine and feces that we got to look at," he said. "It's just a bad look on the street. It's a bad look for Denver."

Holligan has reached out to the city, Councilmember Jolon Clark and the Denver Police Department, but the problem persists.

"The cops that do come out here, man, we understand they're handcuffed as well because they want to help us, but they say it's like shoveling water. There's nothing they can do," Holligan said.

The City of Denver is working on a solution to this problem. It's called the Safe Parking Program, and the Department of Housing Stability is currently seeking proposals from groups interested in operating a temporary site where people living in their cars or RVs could safely park and get connected to services.

"We want to make sure that people have a safe, stable place to be that they can count on, that they have access to clean food and water, and that they have access to a place to get cleaned up, wash their hands and have a shower," said Angie Nelson, the department's deputy director of Housing Stability and Homelessness Resolution.

How the site will look like — and where it will be located — will depend entirely on the group or company the city awards the bid to, Nelson says, but the goal either way is to get people out of an unsafe environment.

"I think the difference is when you're in an RV, and you don't have access to any of those things — you are without heat, you're without electricity, you're without water, you're without sanitation — and then it's, by federal definition, a place called unfit for human habitation. And so, from a policy standpoint, we want to make sure everyone in Denver has a safe, stable place to be," Nelson said.

The earliest a safe parking site could possibly open is June. Business owners like Holligan are open to whatever solves the problem.

"If Denver offers something or a better alternative than parking on our streets and chunking up our neighborhoods, we would fully support that," he said.

The Department of Housing Stability sent Denver7 the following statement about the situation in Ruby Hill:

As in many parts of Denver and the nation, people living in RVs on city streets is now a significant issue, just as people living outdoors in tents has been. Outreach and enforcement teams continue to prioritize this area. The safe parking RFP is one important step forward as we work to connect people to more stable and sustainable sheltering and housing options. At the same time, the City also is working closely with the Police Department, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, City Attorney’s Office and other agencies on ways to improve enforcement. This is a top concern for Mayor Hancock and the entire administration.

Denver7 also reached out to Councilmember Jolon Clark's office. In an email, Clark said he is working with Denver police and Mayor Michael Hancock's office to "get this taken care of."