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City of Denver sweeps homeless encampment without offering housing to residents

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston previously said he would not conduct sweeps unless housing was available for the residents.
Encampment sweep
Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 20:52:09-04

DENVER — For the first time in six months, the City of Denver swept a large encampment without providing direct housing options to those impacted.

The sweep took place on Tuesday in the area of W. 8th Avenue and Navajo Street.

Around 150 people were told to pack up their belongings and leave the area. However, many told us they were not offered any place to go.

Homeless advocates showed up during the clean-up and argued the "sweep to nowhere" directly contradicts Mayor Mike Johnston's campaign promise.

"I am angry. I am just so frustrated," said Amy Beck with Together Denver. "It’s the mayor's plan and he is not following it."

Another advocate, Ana-Lilith Miller, with HouseKeys Action Network Denver (HAND) also expressed frustration with the situation.

"Now these people are spreading out, which is only going to make it harder for anybody to reach out to them to try to help them get into housing," said Miller.

Beck told Denver7 she decided to bring a U-Haul to offer folks help moving their belongings to another location.

"A lot of people have disabilities, they have problems moving around. They can’t lift and so they’re welcome to load things in the U-Haul and I’ll take them wherever they tell me they would like to go," said Beck.

However, she added that folks were not going far.

“They’re just moving a few streets over and then we’ll be listening to that neighborhood complaining about the homeless issue in their neighborhood," she said. "This is shameful for the mayor's office. We need better than this."

Jose Salas, deputy director of communications for the Denver Mayor's Office sent Denver7 the following statement:

Today, the city closed an encampment near 8th and Navajo. This camp was posted for closure on Tuesday, April 9. As part of the All In Mile High initiative, we are focused on closing camps through housing. In cases of public health, public safety, right of way, or private property infringement some camps will need to be cleaned up without direct access to housing. Although we have worked with an intention of resolving this encampment to housing for several weeks, this encampment faces a great deal of challenges related to public health and safety and has imposed a significant burden on the surrounding community.

Given these challenges and limited space within our All In Mile High system to accommodate this number of individuals, we made the difficult decision to post the camp for cleanup. This is the first time the administration will post and encampment closure without housing resolution in 6 months, and something we plan to avoid in the future.

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