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Old 02-03-2020, 05:55 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
6,111 posts, read 6,454,475 times
Reputation: 21152

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Denver's never-ending road home in dealing with the homeless

https://gazette.com/premium/denver-s...e72d920d8.html

"Don Walker had never been homeless before.

When he was released from prison earlier this year after spending more than half a decade behind bars, everything changed.

He made his way to a shelter on 38th Street, where he spent the next few nights and met people who had lived this way for years.

Homeless students increase in Colorado Springs area as statewide numbers decline
“My perception of the homeless used to be way different,” he said. Denver’s homeless aren’t all heavy drug users or criminals, and many are troubled by “some deeply rooted stuff, way down to the core.”

The same, in many ways, can be said of Denver city government’s Sisyphean efforts to help the homeless, or at least rid the streets of them. There are no simple solutions, and the ongoing issues of drugs, tax money, civil rights, politics and mental illness course through it.

For years, the city has fought and failed to get at the heart of its homelessness problem. From housing to health care, Denver’s leadership has been criticized for falling short on all fronts .

Meanwhile, a battle is brewing in courts of law and public opinion around the city’s urban camping ban. The 2012 law gives cops the power to fine or jail a person who sleeps on public property rather than in a shelter. In practice, campers are rarely cited or arrested by police officers. Instead, they end up shuffling their way around the city to find a safe spot to squat.

Mayoral and City Council races have pivoted on the homeless conundrum for years, and John Hickenlooper, the former Denver mayor and Colorado governor hoping to be the next U.S. senator, promised a Road Home program that was a dead end and an unkept promise.

Proponents of the camping ban, such as the National Association of Realtors and the Downtown Denver Partnership, say without the law in place, public safety is put at risk without helping people access housing.

Speaking specifically about the Right to Survive Initiative that was shot down by 82% of Denver voters in 2019, the Downtown Denver Partnership said it would have “significant unintended consequences for those experiencing homelessness, and creates serious economic, safety and quality of life issues for all Denver residents and guests.”

But opponents of the ban say casting out the homeless is a lose-lose for everyone.

“Criminalizing homelessness is futile and wasteful of public resources,” said Tristia Bauman, senior attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “There are better policy models to pursue.”

The urban camping ban was ruled unconstitutional on Dec. 27 by Denver County Judge Johnny Barajas, who cited the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Following the ruling, the City Attorney’s Office wasted no time appealing the decision. Denver’s Police Department has since resumed enforcement of the ban, pending the appeal.

“We are still exploring our options and next steps, but it is important to remember that this is a narrow ruling on a criminal matter,” said Ryan Luby, spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, in an earlier statement. “The city will continue to enforce its ordinances, including those necessary to protect public health and safety.”

On Jan. 15, Denver’s Health Department evicted homeless encampments in Liberty Park, citing an infestation of rats. The park, on East 14th Avenue near the Colorado Capitol and also called Lincoln Park, will be closed indefinitely, city officials said.

About 100 people were told to leave who had set up camp in the park during the two weeks prior.

The timing of the sweep is “suspect,” said Benjamin Dunning of Denver Homeless Out Loud. The rats have been in the park for years, he said, but they only became an issue when tents began popping up.

“It just goes to show that the city really doesn’t care about the law,” Dunning said. “What they really care about is visible homelessness, and they will use any means necessary to disperse them.”

The urban camping ban traces its roots back to the Occupy Denver movement in 2011. At that time, encampments had been cropping up all over Civic Center Park as activists took to the streets in protest of economic inequality, a movement happening across the country.

Denver City Council, in response, the next year passed an ordinance, 9-4, that barred camping on public property.

“They saw that it worked so well, they decided to continue using it for the homeless population, which I thought was really just a trashy, immoral mindset,” said former Democratic Rep. Joe Salazar, who has tried to pass numerous times a Right to Rest bill that would outlaw urban camping bans across Colorado.

Although no longer in the Legislature, Salazar said he anticipates another Right to Rest bill will be introduced during the legislative session.

Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca called the camping ban “an iteration of black code vagrancy laws that were once used against the black population” on Jan. 19 at the Shorter Community AME Church.

The councilwoman, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, pledged in her speech to repeal the law this year. She would need nine council members’ votes to trump a veto from Mayor Michael Hancock, who supports the ban.

“Denver’s approach to assist people living in homelessness — which is overwhelmingly supported by the public — is to address their needs indoors in a dignified and compassionate fashion,” said Mike Strott, spokesman for the mayor’s office. “We do not believe outdoor encampments are healthy or safe, and the unauthorized-camping ordinance has proven to be an effective tool to connect people with services, including overnight shelter, of which there are typically a couple hundred vacant beds each night.”

After John Hickenlooper was elected mayor in 2003, he accepted a challenge as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to create a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness.

The plan, called Denver’s Road Home, was not actually intended to end all homelessness in the city, Hickenlooper spokeswoman Melissa Miller said. Rather, it was a federal initiative intended to promote problem-solving in cities challenged with homelessness.

Denver is currently experiencing an affordable housing shortage. Meanwhile, its population has boomed over the last decade, and its median rent has risen for the past four years. An estimated 35% of Denver households are spending more than 30% of income on housing, according to city data.

Today, an estimated 3,943 people are homeless in the City and County of Denver, according to the 2019 Point in Time survey, a 24-hour count of the homeless across the city. Homelessness in the city increased by 18% from 2017 to 2019, the survey found.

Advocacy organizations tend to agree that the prevailing answer to solving homelessness is affordable housing.

Denver needs about 27,000 more affordable rental units to house residents that make less than $19,500, according to the Colorado Division of Housing. An additional 11,900 units are needed for the “very low-income” bracket. The city also is short 3,340 units in the low-income bracket.

“We need to think intentionally about how to expand access to housing … which is what ends homelessness,” Bauman said. “A shelter is not housing.”

A 2019 report by the REMI Partnership — a policy organization made up of business groups like the Colorado Association of Realtors and the Colorado Bankers Association — found that there are 1.2 shelter beds for every homeless person.

Opponents of the camping ban disagree with the figure and say there is not enough space to house all of Denver’s homeless. They also argue that shelters aren’t a feasible option for families, couples, people with pets or those who work night shifts due to some shelters closing their doors for the night at 6 p.m.

Josh Geppelt, the vice president of programs for the Denver Rescue Mission, said the shelter serves between 900 and 1,000 people daily. He estimates he sees 15 to 20 new faces a day.

There are a few reasons for this, he says, one being that shelters are seeing a growing aging population, as well as an increase in younger people who can’t afford rent despite holding down a job.

Last month, Denver City Council approved more than $5 million in funding for shelters, including Denver Rescue Mission.

Last year, Hancock set aside roughly $51 million toward services for the homeless, according to the mayor’s office.

With the 2020 budget and the newly created Department of Housing Stability, most of the housing and homelessness services now fall under one department’s purview, where $72 million of the $98 million in housing and homelessness funding now sits.

The rest of the funding flows to programs run by Denver Human Services, Denver Health, the public library, the city’s Health Department and more.

“What we’re doing is working,” Strott of the mayor’s office said in a statement.

But homeless advocates don’t agree. “We’re not responding to scale, which is why things are going to get worse,” Dunning said.

For years, the state's crown city has fought and failed to find solutions on homelessness. Is there an end in sight?"
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Old 02-03-2020, 10:26 PM
 
Location: Denver and Boston
2,072 posts, read 1,823,242 times
Reputation: 3805
The homeless situation in and around Union Station has gotten very bad in the past 6 months. Most of said homeless are clearly drug addicts. There is a small army of police that go around and monitor them.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:39 AM
 
733 posts, read 417,362 times
Reputation: 557
i recall back in the 1970's NY state had built a than state of the art 10+ square mile mental health facility. They housed most of the residents. Maybe the living condition not all that great but they were in a warehouse away from the general population.

president Ragen closed all that and or some how it all disappeared.

there will always be the poor, I thinks its in the bible, currently they are cast out on the street.

alcohol is a major issue because of its availability. We are all snow flakes so mental fitness is also an issue too.

I dont see that much reliable technical information on street people.
It is a common problemo so what are other countries doing?
Bad but, this could be a whole new opportunity for corporate America!
Could a very disabled 10% homeless person be made 60% effective?
Encourage stronger family inclusion of the home less.


we have over rated the individual's ability and should put restrictions on alcohol, drugs, guns. Some parents will never be effective. And / Or have a safety net to catch the fall out. For the safety of the general population.

low cost housing in Denver may not be possible. Living expenses are lower else where if corrective services could be moved to those areas...

Last edited by daprara; 02-04-2020 at 11:59 AM..
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:21 PM
 
Location: COS > DEN > ATL
3,902 posts, read 3,244,231 times
Reputation: 3437
This whole affordable housing idea is misguided. The urban campers in Denver are not rational, good intentioned individuals that just need a leg up, they are gross leeches. Public housing's been tried before; it didn't work. What IS much more correlated with homelessness than home prices is how many services there are provided. Take away the services, they would leave. An additional 8750 per person? All that sounds like is positive reinforcement for more homeless to move in, and it will be a bigger failure than all previous attempts at reducing the amount of homeless.

The biggest problem IMO is the service center is downtown, the same place that's also supposed to be the tourist center and investment center. It's so counteractive. If downtown is to be an enjoyable place, the service centers need to move out to Commerce city or somewhere else. Colorado Springs, despite having significantly more homeless people per capita (a lot are vets) is in better shape than Denver. They didn't put all their investment into a couple square miles of downtown, so now the tourist areas are actually more enjoyable. The homeless population is more dispersed and it's not in the same places that visitors and new investment is taking place.
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Far South Denver metro
28 posts, read 11,037 times
Reputation: 57
In short, the homeless problem will never be properly addressed until people who are incapable or unwilling to take care of themselves can be forced off the streets and into proper rehab.

That means there must be funding and facilities provided for those put into the rehab programs. I would gladly be willing for tax money to go to this type of treatment program than putting hundreds of millions into homeless tenement housing that just enable and encourage more homeless behavior.
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Old 03-28-2020, 04:50 AM
 
28,827 posts, read 31,496,008 times
Reputation: 30037
Quote:
Originally Posted by iSudo View Post
All that said, the white, liberal elites are usually also the ones I hear from most about wanting to pay for public services that they may not even use, but that serve an underprivileged community. They are the ones that are also usually advocating for better health care and education, even if they may not directly benefit from it themselves. They tend to appreciate the "big picture" benefits that result in the community at large being served versus only those with means. So while they do tend to live in homogeneous communities, they are also the ones that tend to advocate most for people other than themselves who are down on their luck or who have grown up disadvantaged.
The problem with liberal elites is they usually equate more spending with "better". They're not good at making systems more efficient or accountable. And anyone who does not think more money is the solution is (selfish, greedy, not compassionate, etc.)

I think there's a lot of hypocrisy in progressive "compassion" as well. Look at the housing crisis that has been building for almost 40 years in California and probably 20 to 30 years in other NE and West coast metro areas. Sure, progressives will support a $15 minimum wage (because they're not the business owners of low profit margin businesses, so they don't perceive it as coming out of their pockets). But when they really have to walk the talk, such as when it comes to building new housing, they often don't. They come up with every excuse under the sun why new housing can't be built (Low Density? Suburban Sprawl! High density? We don't want to be Manhattan!).

Blue America has a problem: Even after adjusting for income, left-leaning metros tend to have worse income inequality and less affordable housing.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business...rdable/382045/

I also think of health care as an example. What the U.S. spends on Medicare/Medicaid alone should be enough to nearly cover our entire population with decent health care. But those programs only cover 50%. But liberals never talk about that stuff. They say stuff like "we need single payer health care" (i.e. a total government takeover) before we can truly improve health care. That's a scam and nothing but a naked power grab.

Heck even a few honest liberals like Bill Maher (who I definitely don't care for, and usually don't agree with) have spoken out on the health care issue:

"We scream at Congress to find a way to pay our medical bills, but it wouldn't be nearly the issue it is if people just didn't eat like a##holes."....And that was just one of many good points he made in this monologue.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm4TAdiEFn0&t=169s

Last edited by mysticaltyger; 03-28-2020 at 05:10 AM..
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Old 03-28-2020, 04:56 AM
 
28,827 posts, read 31,496,008 times
Reputation: 30037
Quote:
Originally Posted by brown_dog_us View Post
It's not the people in office. The law banning camping was ruled unconstitutional by a judge.
This is something that doesn't get talked about enough.

Many strategies by local law enforcement have been neutered by the courts.
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Old 03-28-2020, 06:15 AM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
20,329 posts, read 23,924,553 times
Reputation: 28151
I was homeless, briefly, in the Spring of 1972 in Denver, and back then, it was a piece of cake to go from homelessness to employment. But that can't be done today!

I applied for the lowliest job I could find, working in a nursing home, minimum wage, I "apprenticed" with someone for a week, and voila! I had my own hall to attend to after that!

Back then, compared to today, I didn't need a CPR card ($50), no CNA training or license (CNA classes are 3 weeks to a month), no background check, no drug test, no TB check prior to employment, no fingerprinting.

And even today, you finally get your CNA license, and most employers will want a year's experience before they'll hire you.

Many of these homeless might be capable of giving someone a great massage, but today, you need to spend $14k to go through massage school (A racket if there ever was one!), get licensed, before you can lay your hands on someone's body. You can learn massage just from DVD's and books.

Remove some of these obstacles and you might get some of these expensive homeless off the streets.

When I told my sister that it costs $42.5k a year, on a national average, to have one homeless person on our streets, she accused me of becoming senile. She stupidly thought the homeless was free, no burden on taxpayers.

Most of those expenses come from hospitalizations, emergency room visits, medications and rehab.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:47 PM
 
Location: Evanston, Lake Forest, and Wrigleyville, Illinois
2,518 posts, read 1,608,776 times
Reputation: 3042
Is it normal to see so many homeless people setting up tents, blocking entire sidewalks, and laying passed out in front of businesses? My travel companion and I were taken aback by not only the size of the homeless population but more so the way they seem to be allowed to obstruct the public right-of-way and occupy the entryways of businesses. I live outside of Chicago and within Chicago which has a significant homeless population. However, they heavily concentrate under overpasses, somewhat hidden from normal public view, and they've only become super out-of-control because of COVID-19 orders that mandate that people are not to be moved and caps on shelter occupancy. I guess my main question is whether or not this homelessness problem in Denver predates COVID-19 or if it is the result of new rules related to COVID-19?
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:19 AM
 
Location: Denver
3,911 posts, read 7,217,896 times
Reputation: 5173
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiruko View Post
Is it normal to see so many homeless people setting up tents, blocking entire sidewalks, and laying passed out in front of businesses? My travel companion and I were taken aback by not only the size of the homeless population but more so the way they seem to be allowed to obstruct the public right-of-way and occupy the entryways of businesses. I live outside of Chicago and within Chicago which has a significant homeless population. However, they heavily concentrate under overpasses, somewhat hidden from normal public view, and they've only become super out-of-control because of COVID-19 orders that mandate that people are not to be moved and caps on shelter occupancy. I guess my main question is whether or not this homelessness problem in Denver predates COVID-19 or if it is the result of new rules related to COVID-19?
There are distinctly more unhoused people and more tent towns because of the covid economy. In the “Before Times”, the homeless population was “neatly” contained to Civic Center Park and nearby stretches of Broadway and Colfax.
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