Sleep Out for a Home for Art!

Join Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition and Denver Homeless Out Loud by standing and sleeping along side Art Perreault to “prove” he is homeless and demand he be given his rightful housing.

HUD and the VA must stop this senseless re-defining of homelessness which excludes people like Art who are homeless, squatting illegally in a foreclosed home while seeking safer housing, from getting the help and housing they need.

Monday 8/25, 8pm

at 3030 Downing st

Foreclosed On Denver Veteran Finds Foes And Friends In Search For Help From VA

 

 

By Darren O’Connor

August 21, 2014

Denver, CO—Art Perreault, like too many Veterans of the modern era, is homeless.  He served his country, worked hard his entire life, and bought into the American dream, only to find himself on the wrong end of a home modification loan.  Health issues ensued, Art’s wife left him, and he was left alone to wage battle to keep the home he had known since 2006.  Despite a valiant effort, Art eventually lost his home.

 

Art’s story is not entirely unique.  While the number of Veterans identifying as homeless in the Denver metro has decreased over the last 4 years, Veterans still make up an inordinate amount (>13%) of those living on the street.  Therefore, it is significant that President Obama has issued an Executive Directive to end Veteran homelessness, by December 31, 2015.

 

The directive calls for the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program to serve as the primary tool to eradicate homelessness.  Similar to the HUD Section 8 program, the VASH voucher provides for subsidized rent and supportive services, through case management.

 

After losing his home, Mr. Perreault turned to the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition (CFRC), an all-volunteer group, for assistance. The CFRC connected with Leanne Wheeler, the Colorado Pathways Home Veteran Advisory Group Co-Chair, herself a former homeless Veteran, to assist Art in accessing his Veteran benefits; to include a VASH voucher.

 

Ms. Wheeler referred Art to the VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC), where a case manager was assigned and his immediate medical needs were attended to.  However, despite his heart condition, diabetes, requirement for oxygen, multiple strokes, a blood clot in his foot, and his illegally squatting in his former residence, Art was denied VASH voucher eligibility.

 

(It should be noted that Mr. Perreault was issued a Section 8 voucher two years ago, which he hoped to use to stay in his home.  The mortgage lender – Chase – rejected that proposed arrangement.)

 

Ms. Wheeler personally accompanied Art to the Denver VA Hospital Homeless Prevention Program, and ultimately connected with the Deputy Director, Michelle Lapidow (a colleague on the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Board of Directors), who denied Art’s eligibility.

 

Mr. Perrault was contacted the same evening, by a VA employee, who refused to identify herself.  She did, however, advise Art that his denial of eligibility was not based on a true assessment of his need (he was, indeed, eligible), but on the case manager’s perceived slight by Ms. Wheeler making inquiry about his progress higher in the leadership echelon.

 

The Veterans Administration already faces indictment along this line: retribution, cover up and the like.  In the recent past, these activities have led to the untimely death of Veterans.

 

This cannot be Art Perreault’s fate.

 

And if the CFRC and Ms. Wheeler have their way, it will not be the fate of Art Perreault, or any Veteran experiencing homelessness, in Colorado.

 

Nonprofit programs require Art to literally spend the night on the street (illegal per Denver’s Camping Ban ordinance), or spend one night in a shelter, where he would likely not find a bed, before he is considered homeless.  Therefore, the CFRC, Ms. Wheeler, and other supporters will spend that night on the street with Art, in solidarity.

 

In doing so,  Art’s supporters wish to highlight the subjectivity and disparity in the VASH voucher eligibility determination, while calling attention to how this process shows deference to one illegal act (sleeping on the street) over another (squatting illegally in a house). The law is one thing, but there is also the fact that there are currently 200 VASH vouchers in Colorado that have not been issued and that are at risk of being lost.

 

We ask you, the media, to join us on August 25, 2014, at 2200L, directly across the street from the CRRC, at 3030 Downing Street (Denver), to cover this event.  It is our intention to escort Art Perreault to the CRRC, at the open of business on August 262014, to sign the sworn affidavit required of him, to finally be considered homeless.

 

Contact

Darren O’Connor

Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition

Cell: (720)961-3869

ForeclosureResistance@gmail.com

Downtown Denver Public Toilet Inventory

Downtown Public Toilet Inventory

Purpose Below is an inventory of those restrooms in the Downtown and Curtis Park areas with some level of public access. It serves the purpose of cataloguing the availability – or lack thereof – of basic personal-care facilities available for people who are homeless. Not a single one of these restrooms meets the criteria of being open 24/7 to all regardless of membership or payment, with water available, and of a standard above that of a porta-potty.

An immediate catalyst for the inventory came when, at the June 4th Meeting, Councilwoman Susan Shepard asked precisely how many public toilets were present downtown. Hopefully, this inventory will answer that question. At the same time, Denver Homelessness Out Loud and other homeless advocacy groups have long pointed to the importance of boosting such resources in the city, and have sought to improve them. The availability of public restrooms is of crucial importance. Currently, urinating outside is an inevitability for people who are homeless, yet it exposes them to police citation and ticketing. What is more, when an individual fails to pay a citation, or appear in court for it, they become subject to arrest. Thus, simply fulfilling a basic human need ultimately results in arrest. This greatly stalls that individual’s ability to extricate her or himself from homelessness. The inventory below was gathered through surveying Downtown on bike. It has been detailed and supplemented with local knowledge of those facilities.

What Does “Accessible to the Public” Mean? When reviewing the inventory, it is important to determine what criteria a facility must meet in order to be truly “accessible” to the “public.” While all of the bathrooms below are open to the general public in some ways, they also pose certain obstacles for use, especially for homeless people.

One problem is the limited hours during which many facilities are open. None of the restrooms listed are open 24/7, without regard to payment or membership. When these facilities close in the evenings and on the weekends, a bottleneck is created regarding available toilets.

Another problem is that many institutions place restrictions on who can use their facilities. The St. Francis, Father Woody’s and Samaritan House locations only provide easy access for their guests. Many recreation centers charge users payment to use their facilities, and may prohibit individuals who appear homeless from using their facilities. The Greyhound Bus toilets are not considered public in any way, since they are available to paying customers only. It is included here only because of a common perception that it is publicly available.

A third problem is the quality of the facilities. Civic Center Park does have porta-potties which are available at all hours, if one does not heed park curfew. Their conditions, however, are subpar, lacking running water, which poses a serious health risk. Skyline Park also has porta-potties available, but only during special occasions and events. It should be noted that not a single one of these restrooms on this list meets the criteria of being open 24/7 to all regardless of membership or payment, with water available, and of a standard above that of a porta-potty.

Next Steps

With the limitations outlined above in mind, city authorities and advocates alike must envision restrooms that truly meet the needs of our whole community – that are clean, free, open twenty four hours a day, and accessible to all. Only by doing so can we hope to break the cycle of petty citation and jailing, empower individuals to lift themselves from homelessness, and meet a basic human need to pee and poop.

How many public restrooms are needed Downtown? In the Point-In-Time survey conducted in January 2014, The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative concluded 3,245 homeless individuals were living in the City and County of Denver (1). This number differs significantly from the 4,905 reported in the 2013 survey (2). This discrepancy does not necessarily reflect a significant decrease in the homeless population due to homeless people finding housing or moving out of denver. For one, it is in part due to the implementation of the Urban Camping Ban, which has forced homeless individuals into more secluded areas away from police officers — as well as those surveying the homeless. It also reflects a change in counting. In 2013, HUD changed it’s definition of homelessness. Those living at friends, in transitional housing, or couch-surfing no longer counted as homeless, but rather “at-risk” of homelessness. Before 2013 they were counted as homeless (indeed living without a home of their own). Both counts are low estimates, given the difficulty in locating every single homeless individual over the course of a single night. In any case it is hard to say with absolute certainty how many homeless people in the City and County of Denver, let alone in Downtown Denver specifically. We estimate a range between 1500 and 3000 people based on available data and anecdotal observation.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for restrooms in the workplace roughly equate to two restrooms for every forty employees (3). At 1,500, the homeless population downtown would require a minimum of 38 restrooms. At 3,000 individuals, 76 restrooms. Note that OSHA defines restrooms (water closets) as necessarily including potable water. Of course, Downtown cannot be considered a “workplace,” but the OSHA calculations are based on sound biological, health and safety needs appropriate for any concentration or population of individuals. Even counting the 25 restrooms listed below, Denver would need to invest in an additional 13 public restrooms at a minimum, notwithstanding the inadequate nature of the already existing facilities, in order to meet the needs of the homeless population downtown.

In Portland one “Portland Loo” (a solar powered toilet and sink) costs $90,000 to purchase and install and $14,400 to maintain it for a year (4). The cost to install and maintain thirteen Portland Loos for a year would equal just under $1.3 million. Based on a higher estimate of the homeless population, and rightfully not counting the the already existing facilities, which as stated above do not meet the standards being truly “public,” the City would need to construct 76 restrooms at just over $7.9 million. Such measures would help homeless individuals meet their basic needs while also alleviating the strain on law enforcement officers who ticket people who are homeless for pooping and peeing in public. What is more, public restrooms would be a resource available to all who live, work, and enjoy Downtown.

Many other solutions exist in addition to the the Portland Loos that address the lack of facilities available for people who are homeless. These include more fully functioning Urban Rest Stops, increases is affordable housing, and measures to employ homeless individuals. More in-depth conversations and analysis are required to decide which combination of solutions will work best for Denver, but delays in pursuing practical projects are inexcusable.

Sources

1. 2014, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, “2014 State of Homelessness, City and

County of Denver” http://mdhi.org/

2. 2013, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, “2013 State of Homelessness, City and

County of Denver” http://mdhi.org/downloads/

3. 2013, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Code of Federal Regulations,

Title 29 Labor, § 1910.141 Sanitation.” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2013-title29-

vol5/

xml/CFR-2013-title29-vol5-sec1910-141.xml

4. The City of Portland Oregon, “The Portland Loo.” https://

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/59293

 

Glenarm Recreation Center

2800 Glenarm Pl, 80205

(720) 865-3380

Mon/Wed:10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Tue/Thu: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Sun: Closed

20th Street Recreation Center

1011 20th St., 80202

(720) 865-0520

Mon-Thu:6:30 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 6:30 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Sun: Closed

La Alma Recreation Center

1325 W. 11th Ave., 80204

(303) 572-4790

Mon-Thurs:10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Sun: Closed

Rude Recreation Center

2855 W. Holden Pl., 80204

(720) 865-0570

Mon-Thu:6:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Fri: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Sat: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sun: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Ashland Recreation Center

2475 W Dunkeld Pl, 80211

(720) 865-0510

Mon-Thu:6:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Fri: 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM

Sat: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sun: Closed

Blair-Caldwell Library

2401 Welton St, 80205

(720) 865-2115

Mon: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wed: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thu/Fri:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sat:

Sun:

Closed

Central Public Library

2401 Welton St, 80205

(720) 865-2115

Mon: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Wed:10:00 PM – 6:00 PM

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Thu:

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Fri:

Sat:

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Sun:

Note: individuals may be banned

from the library

Byers Branch Library

675 Santa Fe Dr.

(720) 865-0160

Mon: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wed:10:00 PM – 8:00 PM

10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Thu:

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Fri:

Sat:

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sun:

Closed

Harm Reduction Action Center

733 Santa Fe Dr.

(303) 572-7800

Mon-Fri: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

Denver Inner City Parish

1212 Mariposa St.

(303) 629-0636

Mon-Thurs:9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Fri: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

Scum of the Earth Church

937 W. 11th Ave

(303) 832-2586

Sunday: 10:00 AM

Denver Rescue Mission

1130 Park Avenue West, 80205

(303) 294-0157

Mon-Sun: 5:30am-8:00pm

Note: Restrooms are not ADA

accessible

Salvation Army

2136 Champa St

Denver, CO 80205

(303) 295-3366

Hours unknown.

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Champa Street Location

2111 Champa Street 80205

Mon-Fri: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sat/Sun: Closed

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Stout Street Location

2100 Broadway

Denver, Colorado 80205

(303) 293-3977

Sat/Sun: Closed

Christ’s Body Ministries

850 Lincoln Street Denver, CO 80203

303-860-1272

Mon: 12:30 – 3:00PM

Tues-Thu:10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Fri: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Main offices closed

Sat:

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Sun:

St. Francis

2323 Curtis St

303-297-1576

Must fill out form to get

on list to access facilities.

One also may be banned

from using the toilets.

Father Woody’s Haven of Hope

1101 W 7th Ave. 80204

(303) 607-0855

Must fill out form to get

on list to access facilities.

One also may be banned

from using the toilets.

Samaritan House

Address: 2301 Lawrence Street 80205

Phone: (303) 294-0241

Only open to guest living there.

Skyline Park

Arapahoe between 16th and 15th Avenues

Regularly closed for repairs

Civic Center Park

100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy, 80204

Open everyday during park hours, 6am-11pm.

In poor condition, filthy.

Pavillions

Address: 500 16th St. 80202

Phone: (303) 454-9032

Mon-Sat:10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Sun: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Door is not ADA accessible.

Union Station

1701 Wynkoop St.

(303) 534-1012

Open 24/7 once renovated, accessible at discretion of RTD authorities. Intended only for paying

customers and enforced by security guards, and homeless individuals have been regularly asked

to leave the facilities.

Greyhound Bus Station

Open 6:00 AM – 1:00 AM daily.

Available to paying customers only,

enforced by security.

$1.8 Million approved for police to increase enforcement against sleeping, peeing, asking for help, and otherwise trying to survive: On Monday we stood together to say NO!

Media coverage of our march and speak out against the 1.8M for more cops

Channel 7 News

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denver-city-council-debates-18m-for-extra-police-patrols-in-lower-lodo-and-along-16th-street-mall?utm_source=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_campaign=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_medium=email

Westword

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/06/denver_homeless_rally_more_police_ballpark_16th_street_mall.php?utm_source=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_campaign=Homelessness+in+the+News+6.17-6.23.14&utm_medium=email no more cops marchno more cops march 2no more cops march 4no more cops speak outno more cops speak out 2no more cops speak out 3

 

Take a Stand Against Excess Criminalization! Homes Not Jail!

flyerpicturecitycouncil

City Council is proposing to spend 1.8 million taxpayer dollars to significantly increase policing downtown.

A top priority is policing people for the “criminal acts” of being homeless – including but not limited to, not having anindoor place to sleep, urinate or smoke weed, and asking for help (panhandling) – instead of using this 1.8 million for housing, bathrooms, or jobs. $900,000 of this will go to “estimated increased arrest and detention costs” and they estimated “330 additional arrests.”

The Downtown Denver Business Partnership, Business Improvement District, and VISIT Denver are throwing down an additional 160,000 dollars directly to the Denver Police Department to heavily police the mall.

This is happening at a time that Denver Police are facing numerous investigations on a Federal and State level for increasing amounts of improper conducts and abuse of powers.

Being harassed by police, ticketed, arrested, and spending time in jail for basic acts of survival increases homelessness and infringes on basic human and Constitutional rights.

Join us Monday June 23th at 3:30p.m. at Skyline Park (16th and Arapahoe) to walk the mall and unite at the front of the City Council building at 4:30 p.m. to take a stand and speak out not just for the rights of homeless people, but for all people’s rights. Then join us at the City Council Meeting at 5:30p.m.

 

Organized by Denver Homeless Out Loud – denverhomelessoutloud.org in colaboration with Colorado Progressive Coalition – progressivecoalition.org

The $1.8 million blanket

By Ray Lyall

On Wednesday June 4th Mayor Michael Hancock introduced BR14-0440 at the Government and Finance subcommittee. For a special allocation for more police officers in downtown areas and expected incarceration costs.

April 21, 2014 The Denver Post reported.
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday promised stepped up police patrols andl clean up measures in down towns Ballpark neighborhoods to sweeten a contentious HOMELESS day center project.”

“He (Mayor Hancock) pledged in a letter to the city council to seek a budget request to pay for those efforts.”

Then on May 19, 2014.
The Denver Post reported.

“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is delivering on a promise of more downtown police officers and other efforts to clean up the area.”

and

“To immediately address increased demands and current issues.” In police district 6.
Mayor Michael Hancock.
The Denver Post.

I have some very serious issues concerning the Mayors budget request of $1.8million to the Denver city council to increase cops in the three so called “hot spots” of Downtown, Lodo and Ballpark

These increased demands would seem to suggest that the “issues” are connected with the HOMELESS alone and have little or nothing to do with the local businesses, Ballpark residents, kids in the area, patrons of establishments in the area, the general public and/or the rapid growth of Lodo, downtown and Ballpark  over the past four years.

The Denver Post.
“Because of the rapid growth that we’ve had (downtown) we haven’t been able to stay ahead of what we need”
Council woman Judy Montero

and

“Burgeoning growth”
Mayor Michael Hancock

One more time.
“increased demands”.
Something has increased. More people? More building? More businesses? No not at all. There’s just more HOMELESS people.

Now, It’s my understanding that approximately half of this budget will be spent on an additional ten cops in district 6 and, that the remainder of the $1.8 million will go to “cover an anticipated increase in arrests and detention costs.” specifically 330 detainees.  how do they know that? Are they only going to arrest 330 individuals? what if there are 332 crimes committed downtown next year?
Chief White at the government and finance meeting that the police would give warnings and hand out citations before arresting people. So, where does the 330 come from and what’s the additional $900.000 for? if there are no detainees to detain.

It’s pretty clear to me, That this is just a blanket (pun intended) to give the Denver police another means to arrest more of the HOMELESS. So, as long as I don’t smoke pot, I don’t do what I can to get a buck, I don’t urinate or I don’t sleep, I ll be able to live and thrive with an over whelming Quality Of Life. I guess I should say Thank You to Ballpark, Denver Downtown Partnership and all the other fine people  concerned with my well being.

Now, I’m not strictly opposed to more cops downtown, or in Lodo or even in the Ballpark neighborhood. More people simply means more problems.
On Monday June 2 at approximately 2:30 am, while three people were getting hamburgers, a triple shooting occurred.

BTW There’s no fast food places at all in this area of Council district 9.

Let’s look at some of the “long standing problems” that the Denver post seems to suggest that the Mayor and his office and the city council believe are “connected to the HOMELESS”
Oh wait, there are no specific mentions of any problems. Maybe they mean more beds, jobs and rest rooms. Those are some” long standing problems connected to the HOMELESS.
Although the article in the post doesn’t mention any specific problems. At the government and finance committee it was made all to clear. The issues specifically mentioned were public pot smoking, panhandling and public urination. These are pretty specific issues aimed at a pretty specific group of people (HOMELESS) in order to pacify another specific group of people. (Some people living in the Ballpark neighborhood )  Say it with me, Dis-Crim-In-Ation.

And now to consider these serious issues with the appropriate respect.
let’s start with the last issue, being that it’s not a favorite subject.
Public Urination.
Can I just state the obvious here? If You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go!! It happens to all of us. Sometimes there is either no place to go or they are all locked tight. Try this,  google.   ” peeing in public”. no, really go ahead I’ll wait…….there’s a lot of videos right?
My point is, if you’ve just left an establishment after drinking a few beers with your friends at 2:00 am and find you have to go. You,re going to find a place to go. I’m sure some of you are blushing right about now. Show of hands please.
I’ll be honest. I’ve done it. A few blocks from the stadium. back when I was an Insider. (One who lives in a home.) They just can’t all be HOMELESS.
And just what happened to all those Portapots on and around the Platte?
So, while the city is working on getting us some public rest rooms this week. they might want to think about some of those nice trash cans also.
Next up Panhandling.
Panhandling is to ask strangers for money in a public place. And here’s a real shocker. Hey Denver Downtown Partnership, Pay attention. Not all panhandlers are HOMELESS. The Northeast Ohio coalition for the HOMELESS estimates that only 40%–60% of panhandlers are HOMELESS. Then there are the Green Peace people and the save the rain forest people and the save the tigers people and the save a tree kill a lumber jack people and………Well, You get the point. They,re just not all HOMELESS.
BTW The money that those strangers give to the panhandlers does not get sent off to our secret HOMELESS people bank. That money goes right back into the community. Whether it’s spent on sandwiches, cigarettes or booze. the money gets spent here in local stores.

I saved the best for last.
Public Pot Smoking
I need to confess, I don’t smoke pot, No really, I don’t…No Really!! Public pot smoking is a bad idea. but, drinking ten beers at a Rockies game and driving the kids home is a bad idea. Drinking ten beers at a Broncos game and driving your buddies home is a bad idea. Drinking alcohol until 2:00 am is a bad idea. And apparently buying hamburgers at 2:30 am in police district 6 in Denver is a Really Bad Idea. Its not just some of the HOMELESS with a bad idea.

Then there’s the $56.00 a day in jail costs. I certainly don’t have that kind of money!
that’s ok the Denver tax payers will pick up the tab. But not the rich folks.
They just get to make the rules

Oh and btw if you happen to have an extra $100.000 laying around you can buy your own police force. just ask the Downtown Denver Partnership.
That’s right Denver Downtown Partnership gave the Denver Police Department $100.000 to add a cop every block Downtown.

Ten More Cops for What? Tell City Council to Vote No to more Policing and Yes to more Homes and Bathrooms

Ten More Cops for What?

1.8 million additional city dollars have been proposed to spend policing downtown. A top priority is policing people for the “criminal acts” of being homeless – including but not limited to, not having an indoor place to sleep or urinate, and asking for money when you have none – instead of using this 1.8 million for housing, bathrooms, or jobs.

On Wednesday June 4th, 2014 Denver City Council Government and Finance Committee passed a budget request for “$1.8 million Supplemental Appropriation for Denver Police and Sheriff Department for Increased Security Presence.” This budget request will now be moving toward approval from the whole City Council. (The date for this hearing is still unknown.)

If this proposal passes, $900,000 would be spent to add 10 police officers to patrol the so-called “hot spots” of the 16th St Mall, the Ballpark neighborhood (where St Francis Center, the Rescue Mission, Samaritan House, and many other services for homeless people are located), and Lodo. Another $900,000 would be spent on estimated increased “arrest and detention costs.” Alongside this $1.8 million of city budget, the Downtown Denver Partnership has already spent $100,000 of their own money to hire one additional officer per block along the 16th St Mall.

This request for additional policing was made by Mayor Hancock in an effort to accommodate the complaints of the Ballpark Neighborhood Association about the Lawrence St Community Center addition to the Denver Rescue Mission recently approved by the City Council.

Of course it would be unconstitutional discrimination for city officials to direct the police force specifically to target people who are homeless because of their housing status. So instead they explain that it is not about homelessness itself but about “criminal activity.” What sort of criminal activity? Panhandling, smoking weed, and public urination were three top crimes mentioned by Denver Police Chief Robert White. Plus of course the crime of sleeping in public. Laws against sitting/lying down along the 16th St Mall, and “loitering” in various areas will also be enforced.

So while Chief White and others can claim “homelessness is not a crime,” trying to exist and survive in public space is a crime. If you don’t have a home of your own to sleep, sit, or urinate in, and the only place you have to do these things is public space, than you are by default a criminal.

Now lets step back for a second and ask: “What are the appropriate solutions for the problems at hand?” For, as Council Woman Kniech so aptly put it, “We won’t solve what this area is upset about if we don’t spend the money on [solutions] and as quickly and aggressively as we spent this supplemental.”

If panhandling is a problem, the solution would be for people who are panhandling because they lack money to be offered employment or a disability check that actually meets their needs.

-58 people could be hired full time at $15 hr for a year for the $1.8 million the City is proposing to spend on police. For example, people could be hired to clean the streets if that is a real issue. (In New York City, San Rafael (CA) and elsewhere, programs successfully employ unhoused people to remove trash, shovel snow and keep downtown business areas clean. See AceNewYork.org, doe.organd streetsteam.org.)

If public urination is a problem, the solution would be to have accessible public bathrooms for people to urinate in.

-In Seattle it costs $600,000 per year to maintain one “Urban Rest Stop” which have bathrooms, showers, washing machines, and basic toiletries. Denver could maintain three “Urban Rest Stops” at that price with the 1.8 million proposed to spend on policing. (See http://www.urbanreststop.org/ for more information)

-In Portland it costs $90,000 to purchase and install one Portland Loo (a solar powered toilet and sink) and $14,400 to maintain it for a year. Denver could buy 17 Portland Loos and maintain them for a year for the $1.8 million. (See https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/59293 for more information)

-Right here in Denver’s own Washington Park the city is spending $160,000 for bathrooms (See http://www.westword.com/2014-05-15/news/rangers-in-denver-parks/) Why can the city afford to upkeep and clean the bathrooms in Wash Park and not downtown where people who are homeless have no place to use a restroom?

If sleeping in public places is a problem, the solution would be to offer people housing they can afford.

-206 single people could be given a studio apartment for a year for the $1.8 million to be spent policing people sleeping outside. (If someone has no income, rent for a studio apartment would cost the city about $725 per month, including utilities, or $8700 a year)

 

-360 “Tiny Homes” could be built at $5,000 a piece (as is done in Madison, Wisconsin) for this 1.8 million (See http://occupymadisoninc.com/ or http://quixotevillage.com/ for more information)

 

 

Take Action!

Email City Council Members asking them to vote no on CB14-440

albus.brooks@denvergov.org

charlie.brown@denvergov.org

chris.nevitt@denvergov.org

christopher.herndon@denvergov.org

deborah.ortega@denvergov.org

jeanne.faatz@denvergov.org

jeanne.robb@denvergov.org

judy.montero@denvergov.org

kniechatlarge@denvergov.org

marybeth.susman@denvergov.org

paul.lopez@denvergov.org

peggy.lehmann@denvergov.org

susan.shepherd@denvergov.org

Write a letter to the editor by emailing openforum@denverpost.com(straight text only; no attachments).Letters guidelines: The Post welcomes letters up to 150 words on topics of general interest. Letters must include full name, home address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited for length, grammar and accuracy.

Come to a Denver Homeless Out Loud meeting to organize to stand against this proposal

Wednesdays 4:45pm at American Friends Service Committee room in the Court House Square apartment building, 901 W 14th Avenue.

Come speak out at City Council Meeting when this proposal will be heard (date still unknown – keep an eye out for this announcement).