FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Response from Denver Homeless Out Loud to the Denver Post Editorial Board Criticism of The Denver Camping Ban: A Report from the Streets
Denver, CO – July 2, 2013 - After the homeless advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) met with the Denver City Council’s Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee on June 25, the Denver Post wrote an editorial stating that the police were being unfairly represented in our survey about the camping ban and also stating that “we hope their report isn’t used as an excuse to re-open debate on the city’s homeless camping ban.”
The Denver Post editorial:
The Denver Post editorial account of what happened at the meeting, executed before the scheduled police response to our report at a July 9 committee meeting, is both unfortunate and misleading. While the editorial implies that the DHOL report failed to include the police’s experience in enforcing the camping ban, in fact DHOL made multiple attempts to obtain police records for our report with no success. We also attempted to meet with Denver Police Chief Robert White in person prior to the meeting to discuss the report, and were told he was busy. He did not attend the committee meeting on June 25. DHOL also made a number of attempts to meet with the Denver Post Editorial Board to discuss the survey with them shortly after the release, and were told they were too busy with the State Legislature to meet with us.
The report we presented to the committee followed careful survey methodology and was based on surveying 512 homeless people, a number which equates to a sampling size of over 10% of those surveyed in Denver’s homeless count, conducted annually by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. By contrast, statements made by Chief White in the editorial were not backed up with any data whatsoever. We look forward to discussing our report in light of the data to be presented by the Denver Police Department, and to reconciling our varying perspectives at the July 9 City Council meeting.
Unfortunately, the editorial strikes us as an attack on the notion of homeless advocacy. It fails to recognize either the methodological integrity employed by the survey or the value of allowing homeless people’s voices to be heard, and it does nothing to advance the collaborative process in which we are engaging with the City Council.
The Denver Camping Ban Report’s data and individual stories by the homeless provide an extensive voice about the impact of the camping ban on their lives. It contains their perceptions about a law that puts them in intimate contact with the police.
A member of DHOL recently interviewed a 20-year-old homeless woman with two very young children about the impact of the camping ban on her family. You may go to the link below to watch this short interview, which underscores the urgency of continuing to monitor and address the negative effects of this ordinance on the most vulnerable among us.
DHOL remains hopeful that these initial meetings with the City Council committee will begin a process of collaboration among all parties–including homeless residents themselves–aimed at increasing the health and vitality of the city and all its people.
The full report can be read at:
Denver Homeless Out Loud
Denver Homeless Out Loud works to ensure that Denver’s homeless community has access to public space, adequate services, and a political voice in the City of Denver. Visit us at http://denverhomelessoutloud.org.