Month: September 2016

HEARING WEDNESDAY 10/12: HOMELESS CLASS ACTION IN UNITED STATES FEDERAL COURT

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HEARING: HOMELESS CLASS ACTION IN UNITED STATES FEDERAL COURT

TIME: 8:00 A.M. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016

PLACE: ALFRED A. ARRAJ, U.S. FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, 901 19th  ST. DENVER, CO 40294 Courtroom A 402.

Denver, CO— Homeless people are going to U.S. federal court 8 a.m. Wednesday, October 12 to address the mass violations of their fundamental rights by the City of Denver. In spite of daily struggles, homeless and poor people here in America are standing up against powerful government and business interests.

“It’s exactly what Thomas Jefferson had in mind,” says their attorney, Jason Flores-Williams.

Since the passing of the Camping Ban in May 2012, the City of Denver has routinely seized and destroyed the property of thousands of homeless persons in Denver in a policy that has nation-wide come to be known as The Denver Homeless Sweeps.

“Defendants’ systematic policy of confiscating property from this class of citizens has profoundly deleterious effects on homeless persons’ legal standing, emotional well-being and medical health, while providing no demonstrable benefits to the City and County of Denver,” says University of Colorado Political Science Professor, Tony Robinson, an expert witness in this civil rights class action case.

The class action law suit challenging the Denver Homeless Sweeps was filed in U.S. Federal Court August 27, 2016. Wednesday October 12, 2016 marks the first hearing in the matter. There will be a press conference 8:15 a.m. on the public sidewalk on 20th and Champa followed by a hearing in Magistrate Judge Shaffer’s Courtroom at 9:00 a.m. The press conference, as well as the hearing, will be attended by many homeless people including those whose rights and property have been seized by the City.

Plaintiff Jerry Burton explains the reality saying, “Wherever I try to rest, the Denver Police Department comes down on me hard. They always tell me: “If you people would just leave Denver, then all of this would stop.” I have lived here 26 years. This is my home.”

The sweeps must end. You cannot sweep away homelessness. Denver is for all people.

Inquiries:

Law office of Jason Flores-Williams

303-514-4524

Denver Homeless Out Loud

720-940-5291 or 415-517-5603

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

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Support DHOL and Our Unhoused Community!

This is the launch of TWO wishlists/fundraisers to help our unhoused community!

Survival Gear Fundraiser Campaign:

We are collecting survival gear to make sure our community without housing is safe, secure, and comfortable as best as possible, but especially to keep folks warm during the winter.

You can donate used or new items or money so we can purchase used or new items.

We also appreciate your help in communicating with anyone who can help us such as a business you are affiliated with or have connections with which sells items in our wishlist.

With the persistent and cruel sweeps of people without housing, often during which people’s property gets stolen by Denver Police and Denver City employees with a low possibility of ever seeing their belongings again, there needs to be a place to retrieve new survival gear. Many items which are taken are irreplaceable, however at Denver Homeless Out Loud, we believe that everyone deserves the Right to Rest and Right to Survive, so that is why we are launching this ongoing survival gear donation campaign.

We are also working to end these sweeps through a critical class-action lawsuit against Denver with the help of Civil Rights Attorney Jason Flores-Williams. We are continuing to push for the repeal of the Urban Camping Ban and for the passage of the Homeless Bill of Rights, as well as, working to create the first tiny-home village in Denver to house people without housing who have little to no income.

Wish List:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags (ideally low temperature ones)
  • Sleeping pads/yoga mats
  • Blankets
  • Tarps
  • Socks (the warmer the better; wool is great!)
  • Boots (all sizes)
  • Insulated/water proof winter coats
  • Thermal/wool/insulating undershirts/long johns (all sizes)
  • Hats, scarves, gloves, mittens
  • Hand and foot warmers (HotHands, Grabber, etc.)
  • Thermoses/insulated mugs
  • Personal-sized first aid kits
  • Cough drops, cold medication, pain relievers
  • Toilet paper
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Flashlights/headlamps
  • Backpacks
  • Individual hand sanitizers/hand wipes
  • Microfiber/absorbent towels
  • Condoms
  • Female hygiene products (Diva Cups, tampons, pads)
  • Trash bags

Technology Gear Fundraiser Campaign:

We are collecting technology gear to more effectively document the sweeps and mistreatment of people without housing, as well as, to strengthen our media capabilities and create a more sustainable and accessible Get Loud Media Platform.

We want to create a library where folks who don’t have access to technology can get trained and then check out equipment to use to document the persistent harassments, but also their perspectives and experiences with being unhoused.

We want to amplify the voices of those who are constantly being told to “move along” and we want to share the knowledge we have about media and technology with those who want it to help us in our mission.

You can donate used/new gear or money so we can purchase used/new gear. Please make sure to contact us before donating technology equipment to check if we still need it (having many people wanting to donate is amazing, however we want to make sure people aren’t donating more than we need or have space for). Thanks 🙂

Wish List:

  • DSLR Cameras (preferably ones good at filming with low light/nighttime)
  • High quality compact video cameras
  • Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) memory cards (preferably higher than 16 GB)
  • Go Pros with accessories
  • Lavalier microphones
  • External microphones
  • Video editing software for PC and Mac (preferably Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro)
  • Smart phones (with or without data plans) for video capabilities
  • Waterproof and compact Solar Charger Kits (at least 6 Watts)
  • Portable phone chargers
  • Tripods
  • Lights for filming at night/low light
  • External hardrives (at least 1TB)
  • Camera batteries
  • Camera cases (preferably water proof)
  • Energizer Recharge Power Plus NiMH AA Rechargeable Batteries
  • Battery charger

We also appreciate your help in communicating with anyone who can help us such as a business you are affiliated with or have connections with which sells items in our wishlist.

You can drop the items off at our office located at 2260 California Street, Denver, CO 80205 Monday through Friday during the hours of 2-5pm. If it is a large drop-off, and/or a technology gear drop-off, please call the office at 720-940-5291 to check for our current needs and to make arrangements.

If you want to send us a check or money order, please send to:

Denver Homeless Out Loud, 2260 California Street, Denver, CO 80205

Please share and spread this post widely!

Letter Concerning Housing Fund Plan

Dear Office of the Mayor,

In regards to the new funding stream for housing, Denver Homeless Out Loud has the following to say. Well it is about time. The first step in a 1000 mile journey has finally been taken. This dedicated funding stream has been needed for at least a decade. And now it is about exist. Much like the college student turning in his first weekly assignment just after mid terms and then expecting high marks and accolades for his effort, such is Denver’s first attempt to meet its long standing housing need. Denver has been one of the few cities its size not to have such a funding stream. No wonder there is such a need for housing that people can actually afford. While it is a start, there is a lot of make-up home work that needs to be completed quickly or the crises will only worsen. And fast.

While finally available we note that this funding stream is far below the critical need for the city of Denver, a need which will only grow as people flock to our city. Funding levels for housing need to increase dramatically and quickly. Approximately 10 times as much as is proposed in this legislation is needed now. (if you compare to funding streams of cities comparable to Denver’s size). Portland Government Website states, Unprecedented population growth is forecasted for the Portland Metro area ‐  another 200,000 residents are expected by 2035. This growth will further pressure the upward cost of housing. The current need for affordable housing in our Metro region is 40,000 units and the deficit increases steadily. An estimated $1 billion investment over the next 20 years will be needed to address the magnitude of our affordable housing crisis.” As the years go buy the need will only be greater here in Denver. How will we ever met the housing need if we only make plans to meet a small portion of that need to begin with? We implore to city to increase the level of funding and increase the goals of the numbers of units. (stated goals are, at most, 10% of the need). The city does not need an expensive failure. Much like the college student who wastes his tuition money because he decided to delay starting his studies till after midterms, his chances of catching up are slim. So are Denver’s. But success is not impossible. A great concerted and urgent effort is needed.

Unfortunately there are some signs that this is only a token effort. A Public Relations move at best. You would think that the funding would first be allocated for those with the greatest need first. Which for Denver is low income housing. Think about it. People who can afford “market rate” housing can also afford low income housing. People who can afford “workforce housing” can also afford low income housing. But low income folks cannot afford market rate housing. Low income folks cannot afford workforce housing. Common sense would seem to state you get every one into something that they can afford first and work your way up towards less urgent needs as you address the crisis. Strange how this funding stream is available to folks who make as much as 120% AMI. I would think that people who make anything close to or over 100% AMI would be considered able to afford “market rate” housing. Housing that costs beyond that being considered “luxury”. And thus not funded by the city. Yet the city seems unwilling to acknowledge the need for low income housing much less fund it. Projects designed for those at the 30-40% AMI level would seem most appropriate for a city full of low wage earning restaurant and hospitality workers. It is our cities greatest need. Or these workers will be forced to work their jobs while sleeping in the dirt (there are many who do already).

The city has coddled developers’ desires to build on the high end for too long. The best way to get the heavily needed low income housing is to fund it. Then when there is enough housing available for everybody we can look at more expensive forms of housing. It will help with the crisis. Volume. Numbers of units. Not dollars spent. 1 million spent on 10 units is not as effective as half a million spent on 50 units. Developers will whine and complain along the way but will find a way to comply and make money. They are smart enough to figure out a way to make such projects work for them. They just need to be pushed to do so.

So much like the college student who has dug himself a big hole in his coursework, Denver has a big hole to climb out of in regards to housing. Thanks for the first attempt. It is a start on a long journey. Keep it coming but our hopes at this point for the City being able to effectively address the greatest need is guarded at best.

 

Denver Homeless Out Loud

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

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Motion for Class Certification for Homeless Sweeps Lawsuit Filed

Motion for Class Certification for Homeless Sweeps Lawsuit Filed

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Denver CO — Today, Friday September 9th 2016, the motion for class certification for the class action lawsuit against the city of Denver for violating constitutional rights in the “Homeless Sweeps” has been filed by Attorney Jason Flores-Williams in the Federal District Court of Colorado. The motion states, “The City of Denver and the remaining Defendants have been seizing and summarily destroying the valuable and essential personal property of homeless people in Denver, according to their ongoing unlawful practice and policy. The unlawful conduct is not a matter of randomness or isolated cases of abusive law enforcement, but follows a common pattern and results in the same legal violations against all class members.”

We at Denver Homeless Out Loud have experienced, witnessed, and know of the sweeps effect on thousands of homeless people all over the city. We know it is common for police or city employees to take people’s property in these sweeps – leaving people with nothing. We know the harm these sweeps bring to communities trying to stick together to survive.

This class action lawsuit represents the cry of thousands of homeless people in Denver to respect our rights. We will not remain silent – we will not be hidden and swept “away…”

All documents filed in this class action lawsuit, including this motion for class certification, can be found on Denver Homeless Out Loud Site under https://denverhomelessoutloud.org/class-action-lawsuit/