July 18! The Struggle For Space: Homelessness and the Politics of Dys-Appearance in American Cities

The Struggle For Space: Homelessness and the Politics of Dys-Appearance in American Cities 
 

 Saturday July 18th
1-4pm, Conestoga Hut Construction, at Eddie Maestas Garden (Park Ave/Lawrence/Broadway)
5-8pm, The Struggle For Space event, at Platte Forum (2400 Curtis St)
 
All people occupy space. But whose space is it?
“The Struggle For Space” event will explore the intersections of public and privatespace issues through art, music, education and live models of tiny homes.
As cities have experienced ‘white flight’, gentrification, destruction of low income housing, and ‘new urbanism’, city leaders and residents have had to redefine and relearn what ‘public’ and ‘private’ space means and who holds claim those spaces. This has clearly affected people experiencing homelessness in substantive legal and personal ways. “The Struggle For Space” event will explore how city development, federal policy, municipal law and building codes have affected all people without access to private spaces of their own who live in public spaces throughout American history.
Experts of city planning, political science, and life in public space will shed light on the past, present, and future hopes for the private and public spaces we occupy.
We hope to spark a transformative conversation around the issues of space in Denver – to explore alternative means of creating private spaces for all those living without, and public spaces where people can be human.
Join us!! 
1-4pm, Construction of “Conestoga Hut.” Conestoga Huts are super simple micro-housing units, designed by Community Supported Shelters in Eugene, OR, that are cheap and can be built in a day. Eddie Maestas Garden (former “Triangle Park”) at intersection of Park Ave/Lawrence/Broadway
5pm-8pm, The Struggle for Space Event, at Platte Forum (2400 Curtis St)
Snacks and drinks will be provided for your consumption 
Featuring…
-Art by Reach Studio artists (for sale)
-Music by the incredible Laura Goldhamer
-Presentations by Chad Kautzer – professor of philosophy, Billie Bramhall – long time city planner, Ibrahim Mubarak – founder of Right to Dream too all the way from Portland OR, and experienced experts on living in public space.
-Plus…one of the tiny homes we recently completed will be hanging out on 16th St Mall (16th and Arapohoe) the whole week before the event (July 12-17) – Drop by and check it out!
In collaboration with…

Colorado Right to Rest Act voted down — We continue the fight until all have the right to rest…!

Right to Rest Bill Fails in Colorado

Rally Before April 27th R2R Hearing — representatives from 17 states and 38 organizations fighting criminalization of homelessness in their states rallied in support of the Colorado R2R! 

Because this bill did not pass the people of Colorado will continue to be awakened in sleep and moved about the city with no place to legally rest; the people of Colorado will continue to be ticketed and later thrown in jail for covering up with a blanket to stay warm; the people of Colorado will continue to hear taps on their window from officers telling them they can’t sleep in their own car. And the list goes on of all the dehumanizing, destructive, costly, and ineffective forces that will continue to be used to criminalize existing in public space.
With that said it should be clear why the State, Veteran, and Military Affairs committee vote against the Right to Rest is not the end of anything. This is only the beginning. We are continuing this fight for our rights to survive as long as they continue to squash those rights. We will be building the movement and coming back next year even stronger…! This year we had this bill in Colorado, California, and Oregon – next year it may be in even more states! We press on until we can all rest…
Watch Testimonies posted by Get Loud Magazine here

Colorado Right to Rest Act Hearing part two April 27!

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Right to Rest Act Hearing Part Two! 

Monday, April 27, 2015 

Press Conference:  

12:30 PM, East Steps of the Capitol (200 E Colfax Ave – Grant and Colfax/14th – back of the Capitol)   

Legislative Hearing:  

1:30 PM, State Capitol (200 E Colfax Ave – Colfax and Lincoln)  (note: changed from flyer)

On April 27, 2015, the Colorado State House, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee of the State Legislature will be hearing HB 15-1264, known as the “Right to Rest Act.” This will be the second part of the hearing that began on April 15th, 2015. There will be further testimony on the bill, and then final votes from the committee.

This hearing is happening during the first National Convening on the Criminalization of Homelessness which is happening here in Denver April 26-28. Representatives from over 30 cities and over 20 states will be convening in Denver to join national join together our local struggles to end the criminalization of homelessness across the United States. These National Convening participants will be coming together to the Colorado Right to Rest Act Hearing and speaking about our nationwide work to decriminalize homelessness. Among these will be representatives from California and Oregon who have run the same Right to Rest Act together with us here in Colorado as a part of Western Regional Advocacy Project.

On April 15, 2015, Representatives Salazar and Melton introduced legislation to end the alarming trend of Colorado cities passing laws that criminalize the basic human and civil rights of people without housing who must live in public spaces. Testimony demonstrated the need for the Right to Rest Act to protect the basic human rights of all people to exist in public space- to move freely, rest, have privacy of one’s belongings, and eat in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle. Opposing testimony listed out services in Denver, such as shelters and day centers, without explaining why the existence of these services means that people should not have the right to exist in public space.Ultimately, even if there were enough “services” we still need to protect the essential human right of all people to exist in public. This bill is important because it regains the human rights that we should all equally share, regardless of how many services there are.

This bill will “allow people the right to rest without harassment from police and without ordinances that violate civil and constitutional rights…you better believe homeless people are being discriminated against. So many ordinances are being passed against homelessness that violate people’s rights, and this has become a statewide concern.” -Right to Rest Act Sponsor, Representative Salazar.

 Denver and other cities in Colorado rank among the highest cost cities in the country for housing. There are not enough shelter beds or housing for low income people in many Colorado cities, leaving people to wander with few places to go.The recently released audit of Denver Road Home also highlights “the potential risks associated with Denver’s Unauthorized Camping Ordinance.” And states that “it is disconcerting to see that Denver’s homeless shelter situation has not significantly improved three years after the Ordinance was adopted.” Enacting the Right to Rest Act in Colorado will allow our state to take the lead in ending the counterproductive, costly, immoral and unjust practice of criminalizing people’s efforts to survive in public spaces when no other options are available to them.

Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), as a member of Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), is leading the campaign for the Right to Rest Act in Colorado together with partner organizations across the state. In a coordinated campaign, California, Oregon, and Colorado are running the Right to Rest Act in their state legislatures this session.

Right to Rest Hearing started to be continued April 27!

Together we are doing this!! Colorado Right to Rest Act was partially heard in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee yesterday and has been laid over until April 27 at 1:30pm. Due to our bill being heard second and time running out we only got 5 of our testifiers and 2 from the opposition. We will start back right where we left off with testimony and a full hearing on the 27th!
From Colorado to Oregon to California our Right to Rest Acts are being heard in State legislation!
At least 100 of us rallied together, spoke out, ate fine food, drank coffee, and hung out in the basement of the Capitol from 8am until 12:30 when our bill was heard! Denver, surrounding suburbs, Boulder, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, and all the way from California — we all stood together because we all know the time is now to end the criminalization of existing in pubic space!

​Mark your calenders for April 27 1:30pm to come back and show together that Coloradan’s must have the right to rest! (stay tuned for details on location)

This Wednesday April 15! Colorado Right to Rest Act to be Heard in Committee!

Oregon and California Right to Rest Acts have been heard in legislative committee!!…no votes taken yet…

Colorado Right to Rest Act goes to committee hearing this Wednesday
Rally: 8am Lincoln Park (Colfax and Lincoln)
Hearing: when regular morning session is done (sometime in the morning) State Capitol Building room 271 (200 E Colfax Ave) 
We need to contact the State, Veteran, and Military Affairs Committee members who will be voting on HB 15-1264 and tell them to vote for the Right to Rest!
All the numbers and emails for the committee members can be found here or below. Please take 5 min to call and tell them why we all need the right to rest!

Su Ryden, Chair–303-866-2942
R2R Sponsor Joe Salazar, Vice-Chair–303-866-2918
Mike Foote–303-866-2918
Steve Humphrey–303-866-2943
Susan Lontine–303-866-2966
Patrick Neville–303-866-2948
Dianne Primavera–303-866-4667
Jack Tate–303-866-5510
Dan Thurlow–303-866-3068
Max Tyler–303-866-2951
Yeulin Willett–303-866-2583

Read No Right to Rest Report

The Beast of Hatred

Almost 500 people living without housing in 10 Colorado cities completed a survey in which they shared their experience with police and private security guards, local laws against resting in public space, and access to other basic needs such as bathrooms, shelter, and housing. This survey was conducted by Denver Homeless Out Loud and partner organizations across Colorado and the findings have been analyzed and turned into a report by Dr Tony Robinson and Allison Sickels of the Political Science Department of the University of Colorado Denver.

Read No Right to Rest Report Here

No Right to Rest Report and Documentary Release April 7!

No Right to Rest Report and Documentary on the Criminalization of Homelessness in Colorado is coming out April 7!

Event:  Release of No Right to Rest Report and Those People: Our Public Existence Documentary

Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Time: 1-3 pm

Location: St Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St, Denver CO

There will be food!

Almost 500 people living without housing in 10 Colorado cities completed a survey in which they shared their experience with police and private security guards, local laws against resting in public space, and access to other basic needs such as bathrooms, shelter, and housing. This survey was conducted by Denver Homeless Out Loud and partner organizations across Colorado and the findings have been analyzed and turned into a report by Dr Tony Robinson and Allison Sickels of the Political Science Department of the University of Colorado Denver. A short documentary “Those People: Our Public Existence”  by Direct Autonomous Media Collective and Denver Homeless Out Loud further shares the experiences of people in Denver who have been harassed and criminalized for surviving in public space. Both the survey report and the documentary will be presented for the first time at this event.

Here are three disturbing findings from the survey:

  • 70% of survey respondents have been harassed, ticketed, or arrested for sleeping in public spaces.

  • 64% have been harassed, ticketed, or arrested for sitting/lying down.

  • 60% have had their belongings taken by police or city employees.

These and many other survey findings clearly show that basic acts of rest and survival are no longer legal in many Colorado cities and that people are being criminalized and “moved along” for performing them. As one man said, “The lack of rest is real terrible. You’re constantly on the move, because you’re told to get up and move on. You kind of get accustomed to it.”

The release of this report and documentary is happening a week before the Colorado Right to Rest Act (HB 15-1264), which was written based on the findings of this survey, goes to committee hearing in the Colorado State Legislature on April 15th in the morning. Colorado is one of three states, along with California and Oregon, that are working together through the Western Regional Advocacy Project to pass the Right to Rest Act this legislative session.

email: info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

See DAM Collective site here

April 15 Hearing for Colorado Right to Rest Act!

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Download Flyer Here

Update: our hearing date has been changed to the 15th; and the location of the Rally has changed to Lincoln Park (Lincoln and Colfax)

Join us for the Right to Rest Act Rally and Hearing!

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time and Location:

Rally: 8am, Lincoln Park (Lincoln and Colfax)

Hearing: When regular session ends (sometime in the morning), Legislative Services Building (200 E 14th Ave, Denver)

Colorado — On April 15, 2015, the Colorado State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of the State legislature will be hearing HB 15-1264, known as the “Right to Rest Act.” Prior to the hearing, at 8am, a rally will be held in Lincoln Park to remind our legislators all people need the right to rest!

Representatives Salazar and Melton will introduce legislation to end the alarming trend of cities passing laws that criminalize the basic civil rights of homeless individuals. The Right to Rest Act would, among other things, protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, have privacy of one’s belonging, and eat in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle. The many laws across Colorado which infringe on these rights would be rendered null and void.

This bill will “allow people the right to rest without harassment from police and without ordinances that violate civil and constitutional rights,” the bill’s Sponsor Representative Salazar explained at the Right to Rest Festival held on February 2nd. “You better believe homeless people are being discriminated against. So many ordinances are being passed against homelessness that violate people’s rights, and this has become a statewide concern.”

Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), as a member of Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), is leading the campaign for the Right to Rest Act in Colorado together with partner organizations across the state. In a coordinated campaign, California, Oregon, and Colorado are running the Right to Rest Act in their state legislatures this session.

Here in Colorado, low estimates count over 16,000 people who are homeless, while the schools alone count 23,000 homeless children. Cities across Colorado are increasingly enacting and enforcing laws which punish people for doing what any person must do to survive–even though the extreme lack of affordable housing is forcing more and more people out of housing and into living in public spaces.

The Colorado Homeless People’s Rights Survey, conducted by DHOL and partner organizations across the state, documents the experiences of 431 homeless people in 10 Colorado cities. This survey shows that 70% of respondents have been criminalized for sleeping, 64% for sitting/lying down, and 50% for loitering. Also, 60% have had their belongings taken by police or city employees. A similar survey done in Denver in 2012 found that 37% of respondents chose not to cover up against the elements in order to avoid violating the camping ban and being confronted by police.

But people’s voices speak louder than statistics. Here’s what one unhoused community member said about his efforts to survive in public space:

“One time, I was sitting at a bus stop. My feet were tired. I’d gotten off from a landscaping job and I couldn’t walk any further. I’d been up all night….A police officer approached me and told me to ‘move on’ and that I couldn’t camp here….I guess I was moving too slow….He put me in handcuffs….The other cop turned my backpack upside down and dumped it out. When they got done, he told me to ‘pick up this crap and get out.’ I had all my fresh laundered clothes in there and my water. I picked up my stuff and moved on….This stuff goes on every day.”

By ending the criminalization of rest and accompanying violations of basic human and civil rights, HB 15-1264 would encourage the diversion of expenditures from citing and jailing people for resting in public spaces to efforts aimed at preventing and ending homelessness.

To make a serious dent in the number of Coloradans facing homelessness, we must prioritize our efforts at the federal, state and local levels to provide affordable housing for all people who need it. At the same time, our humanity and common sense impel us to immediately end the cruel, costly, ineffective and unconstitutional practice of criminalizing people for performing necessary acts of survival in public places. That is what the Right to Rest Act is designed to do, and why the Colorado Legislature should pass it.

Community comes out to support Right 2 Rest Act at Festival!

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A wondrous event occurred on the steps of the Denver Capitol on February 2nd. Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), a volunteer organization working to amplify the voices of homeless people, organized an event to kick off a campaign for the Colorado State Legislature to pass a Right to Rest Act to protect all people’s rights to use public spaces. The event attracted several hundred homeless people who came all the way from Fort Collins, Boulder and surrounding Denver suburbs–as well as from Denver itself.

This festival was together with Western Regional Advocacy Project one of 8 actions in cities in California and Oregon in support of the Right to Rest!

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The event included music, speeches, plays, break dancing, banner and button making, postcard-writing, and food. It involved conversation, mingling of supporters who dropped in and out, and many important interactions. Over 25 people took the microphone to describe how their lives have been impacted by the criminalization of homelessness and why legislation is needed to end this harmful trend.

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“I think everybody should have the right to sleep even if they are homeless,” said Angie, a formerly homeless young adult who volunteers with the Prax(us) organization. “I’m tired of being treated like an animal just because I may look homeless or be homeless. It gets tiring going from place to place just to find some place to sleep. I support the Right to Rest Act.”

“We need to work together, the homeless and the housed,” said Charles, a homeless artist.

Other speakers included bill sponsors Representative Joe Salazar and Senator John Kefalas, supporter Representative Joann Ginal, DHOL members, City Council-At-Large candidate Jeffrey Washington, and Mayoral Candidate Chairman Seku.

“This issue should be near and dear to all of our hearts,” said Rep Salazar. “We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and there’s not a single person that we should leave behind. This is my moral and spiritual conviction…. I’m looking to charge forward really hard on this bill, and I hope you’re standing right alongside of me.”

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The gathering was passionate, peaceful, accurate, thoughtful–and joined together all who attended with a spirit of hope, solidarity and community. In short, it was an unique event in Denver — one which should give momentum to the legislature’s consideration and passage of a Right to Rest Act for the state of Colorado.

Watch video of the event here

And video of the event by the DAM Collective here http://www.damcollective.tv/