Month: December 2015

Watch Interviews with Victims of the 12/15 Police Sweep

Watch Interviews with Victims of the Police Sweep along Broadway/Lawrence/Park Ave on December 15th. 

Police told people they could grab one bag and then had to go or they would be arrested. People were not allowed to gather there survival winter gear…sleeping bags, tarps, tents…all thrown straight in the trash. Now people are trying to survive in this winter weather with none of this.

Onward toward the #Right2Rest…

http://www.unicornriot.ninja/?p=3357

By Unicorn Riot (in collaboration with DHOL)

Roughly One Hundred People Swept From Streets and Their Survival Winter Gear Thrown Away

Roughly One Hundred People Swept From Streets and Their Survival Winter Gear Thrown Away

Denver–On Tuesday December 15th Denver Police Department (district 6) forced out about 100 people without homes who live along the streets by Lawrence/Broadway/Park Avenue near Samaritan House. Police told everyone they had to leave somewhere, go to the shelter, or they would face arrest. One woman who was victim of this sweep said the cops told her she could grab one bag and everything else she owns would be thrown away. She grabbed all she could as quickly as she could but police threw away the rest of her belongings – mostly survival gear such as blankets and tarps.

There have been roughly 50 to 150 people staying in this area, looking after each other, for at least a year. Many people staying there in the winter have created makeshift tarp covers in order to stay warm and dry. While police have regularly swept through the area and forced people to uncover themselves in accordance with the camping ban for periods of time (examples of can be seen on video here or here) and thrown away people’s belongings including shopping carts– not until now have they swept everyone out en masse, threatening arrest, and throwing away everyone’s belongings.

This took place the day after police swept out about a dozen homeless Resurrection Village residents at 6 a.m. in the blizzarding cold (which can be seen on video here).

Police say the trash and obstruction of the sidewalk had just come to the last straw. Certainly there have been issues with trash and obstructing the sidewalk in this area. But does that give police the right to make everyone leave, tell them if they return they will be arrested, and throw away people’s survival gear in the middle of winter?

Police justify this and other sweeps by saying they will take everyone to a shelter. But no matter how you do the math, this does not add up. The 2015 Point In Time Count, known to be an undercount but which is the number used by the city and HUD to count people experiencing homelessness, counted 3,456 people experiencing homelessness in Denver city proper on one night. A liberal count of emergency shelter beds in Denver is around 1,500 beds. If you do the math that is 9 people for every 4 shelter beds. But more importantly shelters are not jail, so no one should be forced to go there, and choosing not to go should not result in possessions being taken by the police. There are countless reasons why a great many people will not or cannot live in shelters including: couples not wanting to be separated from their partners; having a pet; working hours that do not correspond with shelter hours; mental health; health issues in shelters; having a need for autonomy/humanity/independence. Even police know they cannot force people into shelters, but nonetheless they continue to threaten people under the camping ban to move along and pretend like pushing people into shelters is an option. This is not common sense, respectful, or humane. This must stop!

**TAKE ACTION!**

Please call district 6 Police department at 720-913-2800 and ask the police to…

–stop kicking people out and moving people “away”

–stop pretending like there are enough shelters beds for all those who are homeless or that people can be forced to go to a shelter as if it is a jail

–stop throwing away people’s belongings including survival winter gear

Please call the Mayor’s office at 720-865-9090 and tell him this is not the way enlightened cities are addressing homelessness. They are allocating funds and getting low income housing built quickly.

Please call your city councilperson at 720-337-2000 and tell them to stop this disrespectful inhumane way of treating Denver’s homeless residents.

Please call the Governor’s office at 303-866-2471 and tell him the people of Colorado need the Right to Rest!

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denverhomelessoutloud.org

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

Resurrection Village Rises Again!

Resurrection Village Rises Again!

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With snow falling, tents are rising at our new Resurrection Village location!

Tonight, despite the Urban Camping Ban, we set up tents on this land because it is snowing and we who are houseless must stay warm and dry somehow. Meanwhile, all over the city there is public land–land on which in many cases there used to be affordable housing–land which now sits vacant or is being sold to private developers. We have a responsibility to use this public land to meet the public need!

We’ve relocated after being forced from our stopgap tent community at 26th and Arapahoe by the Denver Police Department and TreeHouse Brokerage (the private developer who bought the land from the Denver Housing Authority–DHA). Our new home is at 24th St between California and Stout–another vacant plot of land owned by DHA since 1979.

DHA’s original plan for this land, in keeping with its stated mission, was to put up a large apartment building to provide desperately-needed low-income housing here. But instead, bowing to pressure from the gentrifying Curtis Park neighborhood, it has allowed this land to sit empty for 36 years, right in the midst of thousands of homeless people who crowd into shelters and sleep on the streets every night–many of whom lived in this very neighborhood before losing their housing. The plan the neighborhood now favors is for DHA to sell this land to a private developer for creation of market-rate housing.

But we have another idea for this lot–one much more in line with DHA’s mission. Why not use it to provide a home for Resurrection Village–a community of cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and easy to construct tiny homes to be inhabited and run by those of us who are currently houseless? Tonight we just have tents–but soon we could be sleeping in our own tiny homes!

Yet DHA is not to blame for our current crisis of homelessness–or for the lack of affordable housing that has given rise to this crisis. The root cause is the drastic reduction in federal low income housing funding to Denver and nationwide, which began in the late 1970’s. Between  1978 and 1983, HUD’s budget authority was slashed from $83 billion to $17.6 billion (in 2004 constant dollars). The same year these cuts were finalized, the federal government responded to the emergence of massive visible street homelessness by building large emergency shelters across the country (the first federal response to homelessness since the great depression). Since then federal funding for affordable and low income housing has stayed at a constant low.

Between 1995 and 2011, 290,588 existing units of public housing and 360,000 Section 8 units have been lost–with many thousands more units being demolished or turned into market-based housing every year. (Meanwhile since 2011 830,000 new jail and prison cells have been created.) HUD funding for new public housing units the most permanent form of low income housing–has been zero since 1996. Just between 2010 and 2014, DHA and the City of Denver had to make do with a 31% decrease in HUD funding–even while rapidly rising housing costs and a slow economy have led to unprecedented levels of poverty and homelessness among us.

Ultimately, if we are serious about ending the housing crisis, all of us–in Denver and nationwide–must unite to demand the full restoration of federal funding for affordable housing and the provision of housing to all who need it.

Meanwhile, we pledge to continue working with City Council and city officials to designate land and legalize the existence of Resurrection Village as a sustainable, self-governed community. Until we can build our own tiny homes, we will continue to be homeless, to live in public spaces, and to do all we can to help our neighbors who must sleep outside to stay alive.

We invite and encourage everyone who shares our dream to support our efforts to make Resurrection Village a reality! Donate food, warm clothing, tents, blankets, sleeping bags and other items to help us survive outside! Tell Mayor Hancock, City Council members, and DHA to help us obtain land and the legal right for Resurrection Village to exist in Denver! Tell the Denver Police Department to stop harassing us and to let us survive on public land in the best way we can!

www.denverhomelessoutloud.org

Resurrection Village Forced Down by Police, Betrayed by Treehouse Development

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Last night, December 3rd 2015, roughly 30 people were kicked out of their newly found homes and community at Resurrection Village. We were told by police that we could not protect ourselves from the cold with tents, blankets, and anything but our cloths. All they ask is that we disappear.

It is a sad day for us at Resurrection Village. We started the day in high spirits when we heard today that a negotiation was struck between Treehouse Development and Resurrection Village. What was promised was that we would have two and a half weeks to move Resurrection Village to a new home. Needless to say we were ecstatic to be able to not have our Village wiped out. However it appears we have been betrayed by Treehouse.

Ask anyone living at Resurrection Village why they are there and you will see what this village is and why it must exist. A place where I can stay with my wife. A community that supports me getting off drugs. Somewhere to get enough sleep before going to work. Somewhere I can stay warm and have privacy in my tent. People taking care of others is what it is. But this is not allowed.

But as Martin Luther King Jr said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” The urban camping ban is not only unjust, it is impossible. We do not have homes. We have to sleep somewhere. The 2015 Point In Time Count, known to be an under-count but which is the number used by the city and HUD to count people experiencing homelessness, counted 6,130 people experiencing homelessness in Denver metro area. No matter how you count the number of shelter beds, even with the most liberal counts, that means there are at least a thousand people in the Denver metro area who must sleep outside. The option is cover yourself and break the law, or freeze.

In January the Right to Rest Act will be going before the Colorado State legislator, sponsored by Representatives Salazar and Melton. This bill would, among other basic human rights, give all Coloradans the right to rest in public space and protect oneself from the elements. As we work to address our housing crisis, we must also work to create a city and state where people have the right to survive.

Resurrection Village is not dead. Whether some people join together to try not to freeze with a few blankets, or we have 20 tents and 30 people taking care of each other, or whether we have a village of Tiny Homes, we remain strong as Resurrection Village.

Stay tuned for updates…

Resurrection Village Given 2 1/2 Weeks to Remain and Seek Long Term Land!

Resurrection Village Given 2 1/2 Weeks to Remain and Seek Long Term Land!

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This morning has been very eventful! Resurrection Village has won a small but not insignificant victory!  The city has agreed to let us reside on the small space in between Lawrence and Arapahoe on 26th, for a wile longer. Without trouble we might add. We have until the 20th of December — thanks to the hard work of the residents and supporters!

Councilman Albus Brooks has given us his word to help identify land for Resurrection Village. So over the next two and a half weeks we will be working non-stop to identify the best possible land for Resurrection Village to call home.
We have to live somewhere. Downtown Denver is for all people no matter what your income. So if not here then where…?!!
How can you help?
-Donate tents, sleeping bags, hot hands, Ibuprofen.
-Donate money.
-Help identify land where our village can be approved.
-Call your City Council person and tell them you support Resurrection Village.
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us after our neighborhood clean up

 

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Resurrection Village Still Here and Seeking Land! 12/3 9am

Resurrection Village Still Here and Seeking Land!

Community Neighborhood Clean Up

Thursday December 3rd, 9am – Press Conference, 10am

at 26th and Lawrence “Resurrection Village”

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Resurrection Village, the newly formed self-managed community of houseless people currently living in tents while awaiting city approval for our tiny home village we need a new home. We tentatively have been given 2 and a half weeks until we are evicted from the place where our community has been functioning since October 24th, when the Denver Housing Authority and the Denver Police Department forced us out of Sustainability Park, confiscated five tiny homes we’d built, and arrested ten of us. The property was recently sold to Treehouse Brokerage and Development. We have the tentative backing of Council Member Albus Brooks who is helping in the negotiations with TreeHouse for our two and a half week grace period.

We are looking for land in the downtown Denver area where Resurrection Village can have a long lasting home. In these next 2 and a half weeks we will be looking for land that may be approved for the village and for a 4 month temporary situation. We appeal to everyone who believes that people experiencing homelessness need their own self-managed community to join with us in solidarity and support!   

While our goal is a tiny homes community, right now we have set up tents, to provide much needed shelter from the cold and snow and a safe place for those who are living outside. While this has been successful in saving many from the harsh winter weather, we are still under threat of arrest because of the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance which makes it illegal to protect oneself from the elements with anything other than one’s clothing.

A path to legalization for a Tiny Homes Village as well as an end to criminalization of homelessness–as is proposed in the Right to Rest Act going before the Colorado State Legislature this year–are necessary. We need dignified options for those whom the shelter system can not help.

We are here as a part of the Denver community! We keep our camp clean and safe. We have community agreements for how we live together in this space to make it a healthy and safe place for us and the whole neighborhood.

As part of this work we will be holding a community neighborhood clean-up march at 9am starting from Resurrection Village and going around the neighborhood. Please join us!

At 10am we will be holding a press conference at Resurrection Village to share how we have been creating protection from the weather and community over the past month at this location, how we are working to make this needed rest and protection from the weather legal through the Right to Rest Act, and how we hope to develop this village into a city sanctioned Tiny Homes Village in downtown Denver.

We are hoping to find a permanent home in downtown Denver!

Please join us! If not now, when? If not here, where?

 

Come to 26th and Lawrence St!

Thursday December 3rd, 2015

9am Community Neighborhood Cleanup and March

10am Press Conference

 

How can you help?

-Join us tomorrow morning at Resurrection Village!

-Donate tents, sleeping bags, hot hands!

-Call 311 and tell the District 2 Denver Police Department (720-913-1000 2.Dist@denvergov.org) that you support Ressurrection Village and want us to stay!

 

www.denverhomelessoutloud.org   info@denverholemessoutloud.org   720-940-5291