Author: denverhomelessoutloud

Statement in response to the Denver Homeless Leadership Council Media Advisory of March 6, 2019 regarding Ordinance 300 – The Right To Survive Initiative

March 13, 2019

Statement in response to the Denver Homeless Leadership Council Media Advisory of March 6, 2019 regarding Ordinance 300 – The Right To Survive Initiative

Since the advent of contemporary homelessness in the early 1980’s, over 35 years ago, local governments across the country have “swept,” moved along and arrested people with no housing for the crimes of sleeping, sitting, loitering and protecting oneself from the elements (camping). Even while everyone from the Federal, State and Local Governments, to the Local Homeless Coordinating Boards and Service Provider Coalitions, to Advocacy Groups for Housing, Disability Rights, Homeless Led groups, National Groups, Statewide Homeless Coalitions, and even many Business groups – literally EVERYONE – identifies that the systematic dismantling of our nation’s affordable housing, as well as healthcare and income support programs, is the cause of why so many people from different geographic and social backgrounds are forced to live in our public spaces these days.

Yet in spite of the abysmal failure of Policing as a means to end homelessness, we continue to see new laws created and old laws enforced in a futile attempt to mitigate the impacts of homelessness and extreme poverty on the housed population and business community – aka move homeless people “away…”

The Denver Homeless Leadership Council is continuing a 35 year pattern that homeless people themselves have grown to truly resent. Mayor’s Task Forces, HUD Coordinating Boards and now local Leadership Councils keep trying to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. All the while professing “they” know best what it is homeless people need and if the City would just give them more money, they could fix all the homeless people and make the problem of homelessness go away. Even a cursory glance at the Federal budgets for Housing and Poverty programs clearly documents that it is going to take more than another “remodeled” shelter system or a new 5Year Plan, 10Year Plan, Chronic Homeless Plan, Navigation Center or Coordinated Intakes to turn the tide of the continually growing numbers of people in our communities with no alternatives but to band together and fend for themselves.

Even if the city funded all the projects named in the Leadership Council and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless statement, this would not house – or shelter, which is not comparable with housing – even half of all those in need in Denver right now. People will still be living on the streets.

True leadership would be to defend the right of people, regardless of their housing status, to conduct the life sustaining activities that every single one of us most conduct, and that most of us, at least for now, are able to do in the comfort and privacy of our homes. To both recognize that criminalization of rest causes harm on the homeless community, and at the same time take no action, make no demand or even suggestion to end this inhumanity – this is not leadership.

Homeless people did not conduct a dastardly plan to create homelessness in America nor has the Human DNA changed such that living outside is considered a cool and desirable thing to do.

When Congress approved President Reagan’s 1980, 1981 and 1982 Budgets that almost wiped out Federal funding for low income housing programs, there were NO homeless people in either the House or the Senate voting on those budgets. Just the opposite, by 1983 there were people protesting in the streets against these cuts! Just as in 1998 when Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, Welfare Reform Bills (Contract With America), poor and homeless people had no vote on that either. Clearly we must all admit, Homeless people did not create contemporary homelessness.

So the question then is – Why are homeless people the only ones who are going to jail for the fact that homelessness exists? Homeless people are demonized, ostracized, dehumanized and inevitably criminalized merely for living in a era when our government, over the last three decades, has decided to abandon any pretense of a social safety net.

This pattern of negligence, also known as “Trickle Down Economics” has massively benefited and enriched the wealthiest Americans and corporations, over the same three decades. Homelessness is the price we pay when policies and funding priorities are intended not to serve ALL people but to disproportionately benefit those deemed more worthy of government largess.

In this environment, a plethora of non-profit corporations/coalitions and think tanks have formed to serve as middlemen between those on the benefitting end of the status quo and those suffering the degradation of neo-liberal politics.

They are funded through the charity of wealthy families and corporations and/or government grants, and while they are expected to “deal with” or “take care of” the homeless they are also – ALWAYS – cognizant of where their paychecks are coming from and they recognize the inherent power dynamics that are at play. They are being paid to do their job and deal with the problem – it is now their problem and not a systemic issue of a government lacking in humanity.  For 35 years, they have claimed that they are doing a good job, if only they had more money they could do even better, the system (as long as they are being funded) is just fine – we will rehabilitate poor people to “fit back into society.” – The claim, and the unspoken ask in their statement on the Right to Survive Initiative, is that, “With just a few more grants our coordinated intake specialists and motivational case managers can fix this lickety split!”

Homeless people and their allies put the Right To Survive Initiative on the ballot ourselves because we know that those who profess to be our leaders and who pontificate on our behalf do not work for the systemic change that is so blatantly required to actually address the causes of homelessness and not just the aesthetics of our existence.

In the statement they say they don’t like the divisiveness of the campaign and wish people would just “work together.” The only people who win by not being divisive are those with money and power who strive to maintain the status quo. As poor and homeless people, we don’t have that privilege. We have to fight for our rights. We cannot stand for a status quo where people cannot use a blanket to stay warm. We cannot stand for a status quo where being visible and poor is a crime.

We all need to sleep, rest, eat and protect ourselves from the elements, when we are doing so in a NON OBSTRUCTIVE manner, where is the crime?

With this being Women’s History Month, maybe the leadership council would do well to heed the words of a famous suffragette, Susan B. Anthony…

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, can never bring about reform. Those really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with the despised and persecuted ideals and their advocates and bear the consequences”

Signed,

Western Regional Advocacy Project – wraphome.org – wrap@wraphome.org

Denver Homeless Out Loud – denverhomelessoutloud.org – info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

LANDMARK SETTLEMENT REACHED IN THE DENVER HOMELESS SWEEPS CLASS ACTION!!

LANDMARK SETTLEMENT REACHED IN THE DENVER HOMELESS SWEEPS CLASS ACTION!!

Rally and Press Conference 1PM

Friday March 1st, 2019, in front of the Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court of Colorado, 901 19th St, Denver, CO 80294

 

Denver, CO—A landmark settlement has been reached in the Denver Homeless Sweeps Class Action. After almost three years of litigation, the parties have forged an innovative agreement that will be an impactful step forward in protecting the rights and dignity of people living homeless in Denver.

 

“This will mean I can go to live and work with more stability,” says Eric Plaintiff class member. “It is about time the City recognizes we have constitutional rights to our property too – even if all we have fits in a tent.”

 

This class action lawsuit regards the 4th and 14th amendment constitutional rights to one’s property violated in sweeps where homeless people’s property has been seized.

 

The settlement in this case creates policy to defend basic property rights of people living without housing. It gives every homeless person the right to have their property in public space without being subject to seizure by the City without due process and adequate notice. The settlement spells out detailed policy for how notice must be given, how property can be retrieved, and how the city will be held accountable to these policies. In addition to protecting property rights of homeless people, this settlement creates a number of resources for homeless people in Denver including but not limited to lockers, trash cans and increase trash servicing, porta-potties, mobile health unit, better access to Recreation Centers for showers, and more. The settlement also requires the City get input from homeless people at periodic meetings before making changes to the resources in this settlement.

 

The settlement will go through a court process before becoming official. If you are a class member (aka homeless person) your voice can be heard.

 

A press conference will be held with member of the plaintiff class prior to the Final Pretrial Conference at the US District Court of Colorado this 1pm this Friday, March 1, 2019.

Contact:

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

Class Action Lawsuit Final Pretrial Conference March 1st

Class Action Lawsuit Final Pretrial Conference March 1st

Friday March 1, 2019
Rally 1pm, Hearing 2pm
US District Court of Colorado, 901 19th St Denver
After almost three years of litigation, all issues relating to trial will be addressed at the final pretrial conference on March 1st. Prior to the hearing there will be a rally with speakers, food and more outside the courthouse. Homeless Plaintiff Class members will speak about the violation of their constitutional rights in the City of Denver.
The lawsuit is against the City and County of Denver for violating homeless people’s 4th and 14th amendment rights when conducting sweeps and seizing people’s property. Evidence has been brought in this case over the past 3 years showing an ongoing practice by the city of sweeps where homeless people’s property is seized.
Due to the cities violation of constitutional rights the City has spent great amounts of money litigating this case. The City will continue to face the possibility of more lawsuits if they continue to violate constitutional rights.
Trial is set to begin March 19, 2019. Stay tuned.

Democratic Party of Denver Endorses Denver Right to Survive Initiative!!!

Democratic Party of Denver Endorses Denver Right to Survive Initiative!!!

February 9, 2019

Denver, CO — The Democratic Party of Denver officially endorsed the Right to Survive Initiative today, voting in favor of supporting the initiative by over 70%.

The Right to Survive Initiative would guarantee people’s rights to protect themselves from the elements, the right for people to share food freely, and will reaffirm people’s right to protection from illegal search and seizure of property, which is also outlined in the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Kevin Brauer brought forth the resolution in support of the Right to Survive, saying “ I am supporting this because I am a Democrat, and as Democrats we should stand with those that are most vulnerable. Anyone of us could end up homeless, and I want to ensure that we do all we can to lift them up, not criminalize them for trying to Survive.”

Colorado Senator Julie Gonzales spoke, “ I am supporting this because homeless people that are directly impacted by the criminalization of poverty brought forth this initiative to secure their Civil Rights.”

The Right to Survive will appear on the Denver Municipal Ballot May 07, 2019.

Right to Housing Summit – Remain, Reclaim, Resist – Feb 2nd !!

Right to Housing Summit – Remain, Reclaim, Resist

Just one week until the Right to Housing Summit…!!
Key Note Speaker Steve Diaz!!
Steve Diaz has been a Community Organizer with the Los Angeles Community Action Network since 2003. Steve was recruited into LA CAN when he was living in a residential hotel in Skid Row, experiencing the issues that people dealing with poverty face daily.  Since 2003, Steve has worked on campaigns to prevent displacement, civil rights abuses of house-less people, and The California Homelessness Bill of Rights campaign. Steve knows what it means to fight for housing as a right.
Full Summit Line Up!!
Steve Diaz – Housing is a Human Right
Global Housing Organizers – More is possible…!
Break out sessions #1 Understanding Housing
The myth of “affordable” housing
Barriers to housing
Legal defense
Housing in the Market
Living without Housing
Break out session #2 ACTION NOW!
Right to Survive
Renters Rights
Community Power and Land Trusts
Building Low/No income Housing
Co-op and Hospitality Housing
Other Work
Closing – Calls to Acton…

Register for Free Here!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/right-to-housing-summit-tickets-54769926324

(unlike the Mayor’s Housing Summit – this summit is free cause people who can’t afford housing can’t afford tickets to housing summits…!)

Check in on facebook Here!

https://www.facebook.com/events/310847262874342/

February 2nd 2019, 1pm-5pm

Red Line Gallery (2350 Arapahoe St)

Announcing Key Note Speaker Steve Diaz!!

Steve Diaz has been a Community Organizer with the Los Angeles Community Action Network since 2003. Steve was recruited into LA CAN when he was living in a residential hotel in Skid Row, experiencing the issues that people dealing with poverty face daily.  Since 2003, Steve has worked on campaigns to prevent displacement, civil rights abuses of house-less people, and The California Homelessness Bill of Rights campaign. Steve knows what it means to fight for housing as a right.

Announcing Full Summit Line Up!!

Steve Diaz – Housing is a Human Right

Global Housing Organizers – More is possible…!

Break out sessions #1 Understanding Housing

The myth of “affordable” housing

Barriers to housing

Legal defense

Housing in the Market

Living without Housing

Break out session #2 ACTION NOW!

Right to Survive

Renters Rights

Community Power and Land Trusts

Building Low/No income Housing

Co-op and Hospitality Housing

Other Work

Closing – Calls to Acton…

The time is now to stand for housing and survival for all. Between now and May a we have to fight for housing and survival rights at the capitol, on the streets, in our communities, and at the ballot. 

Who’s behind this

This Summit is organized by Denver Homeless Out Loud together with…

9to5 Colorado

ASAP

Colorado Cross Disability Coalition

GES Coalition

Atlantis Community

Queen City Co-op

Colorado Village Collaborative

Party for Socialism and Liberation

Family Promise

Denver Foundation

Buck Foundation

and more…

Remain – Reclaim – Resist

Return of Resurrection Village MLK Day Eve

Join us Sunday night January 20th and Monday morning January 21st to honor Dr. King’s vision to organize poor folk in united action for racial and economic justice. On the eve of the Martin Luther King Holiday, Jerry Burton – DHOL member who was recently forced back onto the streets by no fault of his own – will be hosting all who want to survive on the streets as he does every night.

Gathering at 27th and Arapahoe at 7:00 pm

There will be food!
All who want to stay the night are invited – whether you are a housie who wants to experience what it is like sleep on the streets, or someone living on the streets who wants to stay with us in community this night. You can also just come by in the evening or morning to join in solidarity and community.

What to Bring…
If you have your own tent, sleeping bag, tarp that you want to use bring those.

If you do not have your own sleeping gear and need some to sleep we will have some gear there but not enough for all. Anyone living on the streets will have first dibs on using this gear.
If you have the resources to buy gear to use yourself or donate to others in need that is rad!
Who Organized This…
This night of survival and solidarity is organized Occupy Denver and various individual community members, it is supported by us at Denver Homeless Out Loud, and hosted by DHOL member Jerry Burton at the spot he and others survived holding down Resurrection Village in Denver for over a year in 2016/17. Together we all bring our strengths and collective power to continue this campaign for poor people’s economic and human rights.
Dr. King’s vision remains critical to our city today as it was 40 years ago. For more info on Resurrection City of 1968 see here.

Right to Housing Summit – Remain, Reclaim, Resist – Saturday FEB 2nd 1-5pm

Right to Housing Summit – Remain, Reclaim, Resist

February 2nd 2019, 1pm-4pm

Red Line Gallery (2350 Arapahoe St)

Because everyone should have a right to housing and survival. Because we, the people of Denver, need to fight for this together. The purpose of this event is to educate, ignite, and organize the people of Denver around the fight for the right to housing and survival. It is to present active 2019 initiatives and work for attainable housing and human rights lead by communities in Denver metro to current and future elected officials, and to Denver voters to effect real change.

Right now the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Denver is $1,419 a month. An full time minimum wage worker makes $1,316 a month before taxes. The math doesn’t add up. Thousands of Denver residents find themselves homeless.

The Colorado Constitution Bill of Rights states “All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” Is this right protected in Colorado when full time workers can’t afford to live in a home and are criminalized for sleeping in public??

As long as Denver continues to treat housing as a commodity for those with wealth and not a right of all people, we will continue to live in a Denver where people work three jobs just to pay for housing and where people are forced to live on the streets and criminalized for doing so. We have no choice but to come together and fight for the right to housing and survival.

 

Values: (from Homes For All)

❖ Community and Housing are a human right, not a commodity to be exploited for

profit

❖ Land and housing should be collectively owned and controlled by communities

❖ Land and housing should be developed in a way that is sustainable for the planet

❖ Land and housing should be accessible, permanent, quality, and connected to

economic, social and cultural networks and institutions.

❖ Grassroots groups and directly impacted people should be at the forefront

❖ New community resources should not come at the expense of the people living there

❖ Community solidarity- understanding that our individual struggles are all of our

struggles

❖ Land and housing should be accessible to transit, grocery stores, healthcare,

education, jobs etc.

Homeless People’s Blankets and Tents Trashed with threat to “Burn” in Freezing Snow

Homeless People’s Blankets and Tents Trashed with threat to “Burn” in Freezing Snow
Denver, CO — This morning, January 11th, a Rescue Mission employee was caught on camera trashing homeless people’s blankets and tents and threatening to “Burn Them.” This morning it was 30 degrees and snowing and will continue to snow all day – leaving all whose property is now trashed in the cold with nothing to cover from the snow.
Thousands of people live on the streets of Denver every night – even in the cold and snow. Gear like blanks and tents are not a choice in this weather, they are the means of survival.
This insane inhumanity must end.

Follow up Letter to Mayor Hancock

Mayor Hancock and City Council,

On November 21st, we, the undersigned organizations, sent you, Mayor Hancock, a letter demanding immediate action be taken to protect the rights, dignity, and survival of people without housing in Denver by stopping the sweeps, stopping taking people’s blankets and property, and providing land and legal variance for tent dwelling for people without homes. Weeks later we have received no reply from the Mayor’s office whatsoever. We sent this letter seeking immediate action from the Mayor on these steps, not to send a call into a void. People’s lives are at risk and the lack of response indicates the Mayor’s office is not taking this seriously.

In order to move forward the immediate steps called for, we are providing further clarity on the exact laws and processes tied to these action steps.

 

  • Stop the sweeps – Cease enforcement of the Unauthorized Camping Ban ordinance 38.86.2 (i.e. Survival Ban)

 

  • Stop taking people’s blankets and property – Comply with the US Constitution in resolution of the active Class Action Lawsuit Lyall vs City of Denver. “

 

  • Provide land and legal variance for tent dwelling for people without homes – Adopt and modify one of the countless models for designated and non-designated tent and vehicle dwelling around the country. See Seattle’s Transitional Encampment zoning law (attached) which creates legal code for tent and vehicle dwelling. And see Indianapolis’ Encampment response policy (attached) which requires encampment residents be given an open and attainable housing option before individuals can be swept. (These codes and policies can be immediately implemented by the Mayor under a “state of emergency” as similarly done in other US cities).

 

The past 5 weeks of police sweeps across the city of Denver, directed by you Mayor Hancock, can be stopped just as easily as they were started.

Until there is actual attainable low-income housing enough to meet the need of the thousands of people, with numbers growing each day, who can’t afford Denver’s rents, people will be living on the streets of Denver. Shelters are not an option for hundreds of people. The city must hear the cry of people without housing, let people cover themselves from the winter weather, and be seen.

 

Sincerely,

 

Denver Homeless Out Loud

Interfaith Alliance of Colorado

Colorado Cross Disability Coalition

9to5 Colorado

Buck Foundation

Atlantis Community

ADAPT

Project Voyce

Colorado Stands

Coloradans for Progressive Action

Colorado Village Collaborative

Shiva Mandir Humanitarian Outreach

After Hours Denver

ACLU of Colorado

Birdy

Denver Relief and Denver Relief Consulting

KSTKL Investments

Sexpot Comedy

Sexy Pizza

Beloved Community Mennonite Church

Wheeler Consulting

Severe Weather Shelter Network

Food Not Bombs Denver

 

How Can I Help with the “March for Homes, Rights, and Dignity”?

How Can I Help with the “March for Homes, Rights, and Dignity”?

When: Saturday December 15 th 10am

Where: Across from the Triangle at Lawrence and Park Ave – to End at City Hall

Thanks for being down to help make this March the strongest call of the people for basic human
rights and needs! Here are some ways you could help:

● Flyer on the streets! Make copies of the flyer or contact us to get copies of the flyer to
pass out if you don’t have copying capacity. Pass out the flyers on the streets to folks
who are homeless or anyone who might join us! Bring copies to service centers,
businesses, or anywhere you can post on a bulletin board. Tape them up to post around
the city.
● Share, like, and comment on facebook! Spread the word on social media telling people
to come and why you will be there to stand up for our survival.
● Make a video saying why you will be there and what this means to you! Share that on
social media and email. Send it to us to share too!
● Make a model house or tiny home that you can carry in the march.
● Bring a tent or blanket that you can carry in the march. If you have the resources, buy
one you can give out to someone in need at the end of the march.
● Bring water bottles or snacks for people on the march.
● Bring food to City Hall at the end of the march.
● Bring your body, your voice, and your energy to stand up for housing for all and the right
to survive!
Contact Denver Homeless Out Loud with any questions, comments, concerns, or to notify us in
what ways you can help!
Email – info@denverhomelessoutloud.org
Phone – 720-940-5291 or 415-517-5603