DENVER — For more than 30 years, Urban Peak says they’ve served thousands of young people looking for a better future.
"The core of what we do is case management. So, how are we building that relationship to really help young people get off the streets and stay off the streets?" said Christina Carlson, CEO of Urban Peak.
Carlson says part of their mission was hindered by the homeless encampment that used to be right outside their front door.
"Our job at Urban Peak is to work with youth who are experiencing homelessness. We need to be able to bring them into our spaces so they can feel safe and cared for and not be experiencing any challenges coming through the door, whether that's violence or trafficking or access to different types of drugs and alcohol," Carlson said.
So when the city swept the camp about a week ago, they put up metal fences. It's a sight that Denver Homeless Outloud says is unwelcoming.
"I sense what's going on with the Urban Peak thing is that something is getting over-reported to give an excuse to put up the fences," said Benjamin Dunning, an organizer with Denver Homeless Outloud.
Denver Homeless Outloud says it hasn't received complaints from young people and points to long-term housing as a solution.
"When you say like, 'I’m going to not have a safe place that you guys can access and push you away to where you can’t access that,' then that violence happens someplace else where people can’t get help," Dunning said. "That’s what happens when people try and make homelessness less visible."
For Urban Peak, the temporary fences aren’t meant to keep people away. It’s part of their construction to beautify the area for the young people they serve.
"The intention is for us to be able to get to finish the construction so that the space continues to be the best it possibly can be for our young people and that young people can come to us safely and they can be inside and outside of our facilities safe and be able to work on the important things that they have going on in their lives," Carlson said.
Urban Peak hopes to begin the work next week and bring in new landscaping, picnic areas and benches. It's a small step that could go a long way for many young people experiencing homelessness to not feel forgotten.