Watch interviews with people being displaced https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EesyYS8mPI
Call Mayor Michael Hancock and demand the city End the Sweeps and Let People Exist in Public Space! 720-865-9090
Rally in Support and Solidarity with those being displaced: in front of the Rescue Mission Tuesday March 8th at 5am until unknown time, bring signs and cameras (this is the place where currently at least 75 people call home at night and many more in the day – please keep this in mind and respect the direction of the people living in this area).
Donate Sleeping Bags, Tarps, or Tents! Call Denver Homeless Out Loud at 720-940-5291 to coordinate drop off.
Denver City Officials announced that starting Tuesday March 8th, 2016 they will be seizing all people’s belongings and kicking everyone “away” who stays outside in the areas around Samaritan house (Park Ave/Lawrence/Broadway/and surrounding blocks). Currently at least 75 people live outside in this area every night and many hundred more stay in this area during the day. People who have made the best home they can out of tarps and sleeping bags, and if they are lucky, tents, will be forced to leave and/or have this survival gear taken to a far off location with some vague promise of retrieving it from the police — if they can jump through all the hoops. Even if this survival gear, IDs, and valuable belongings are retrieved, the city says they cannot return to this area to sleep with any cover.
Houseless people through no fault of their own living in public space, have no choice for survival to use tarps, sleeping bags, tents, anything for shelter that currently violates the urban camping ban. The meager belongings that folks use for survival will be confiscated leaving them with nothing to use for their daily needs. This is a violation of their human rights. We are demanding that our Mayor Michael Hancock put an immediate stop to this sweep.
City Officials say, “no shelter has turned away any homeless person wanting to enter” and that there is room for all those currently staying outside to stay in the shelter. This is simply not true. If you look at numbers it breaks down like this: The City lists just under 1,500 emergency shelter beds and mats. The 2015 Point In Time Count, known to be an undercount, counted 3,456 people experiencing homelessness in Denver city proper on one night. If you do the math that is 9 people for every 4 shelter beds. Bottom line – if every homeless person sleeping on the streets of Denver tried to stay in the shelters tonight there would not be room.
Furthermore, even if there were enough shelter beds and mats for all those without homes in Denver that does not address the need. People need home, dignity, community, protection from the elements, etc… and for many shelters are not a place where these needs can be met. 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 and safety issues in shelters; having a need for autonomy/humanity/independence. Many people stay in this area together for safety because it is safer to stay together with others than to be off alone in a hidden corner. If the indoor option we are talking about is shelters, the City’s statement that, “The safest, most sanitary and dignified place for people experiencing homelessness is indoors” is simply not true. For many many people it is safer and more dignified to stay outdoors with a tarp and blanket. We must respect people’s right to live where they need to best survive through homelessness.
So we ask “move along to where…?”
This threat of big sweeps starting Tuesday comes after regular sweeps, including destruction of property, over the past many months. One of the most serious sweeps happened on December 15th, 2015 when roughly 100 people were kicked out, belongings thrown straight in the trash, and told if they returned they would be arrested. Many folk did leave the area to other more hidden outdoor spots, but many came back and set back up in the same general area.
According to Denver city officials there is a shortage of 40,000 affordable housing units in Denver. Spark Policy Institute reports that “A household must earn an hourly wage of $17.61 to make the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Colorado affordable.” And further “There is not a single county in Colorado where the Fair Market Rent for a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit would be considered affordable for a minimum wage worker.” Bottom line – people cannot afford homes even when working a full time job.
In the midst of Denver’s greatest housing crisis in years we cannot allow our city leaders to kick people around, take their belongings, and force people to move along out of sight out of mind. We demand that Mayor Michael Hancock put an immediate stop to the sweeps.