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The sanctioned homeless camp at the Denver Coliseum is not happening

Organizers are back to square one finding location for legal homeless camp
Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 20:22:02-04

DENVER -- The Denver Coliseum is no longer being considered for a safe and legal place for the homeless to camp.

Colorado Village Collaborative has been organizing the effort along with the city and other partners. The organization says they withdrew zoning applications for a Safe Outdoor Space at the Denver Coliseum because of valid push back from neighbors overburdened with problems in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.

Neighbors Denver7 spoke with say they were not consulted on the plan and they have safety concerns.

"We have a lot of problems with the homeless coming into our backyards at night time, we have vacant houses they are staying in; its unfair," Rick Mascarenas said.

With the Coliseum off the table, three other unnamed locations with the capacity for 60 people each are being considered.

But Denver Homeless Outloud says that's nowhere near enough.

"What’s really awful is we are only talking about one. We should be talking about a half dozen or a dozen to get started," said Benjamin Dunning with Denver Homeless Outloud. "We are going to need about 50 of these to help us get through the pandemic and the city is only talking about one as kind of a photo op showpiece."

Dunning estimates there are around 4,000 people living on Denver's streets. He says the city will need over 50 Safe Outdoor Spaces to meet demand.

The mayor asked city counselors to propose sites for Safe Outdoor Spaces after he long opposed sanctioned camps. Some city counselors did not submit proposals.

"Stop saying 'no,' let’s get this done. Also, all the city council members that have not proposed anything in their own districts, instead of following the real estate folks who have donated to their campaigns, they need to lead in their communities," Dunning said.

Eddie Jackson supports putting a location at the Coliseum just blocks from his home.

"I think its really sad because who are we to judge others? We don’t know what those people's lives have been like," Jackson said.

Jackson believes people need more empathy and local leaders need to take action.

"Talk to people, open up their heart — they are too caught up in the politics right now," Jackson said.

Organizers of the sanctioned camps say the search for a new location has pushed the plan back by a month.

City of Denver officials say the location must fit criteria like legality, neighborhood impact, flooding potential, access to services and cost.

Advocates say the standard is impossible to meet.

"They cleared out Lincoln Park. Those people are a few blocks away and they just announced another large sweep. It’s the same people, they are just moving them from place to place. How is a case manager supposed to keep track of clients when the city is moving them around that way?" Dunning said.