Press Releases

Urban Camping Ticket Issued to Woman for Trying to Stay Warm

One and a half years after the Urban Camping Ban became law, Denver has issued at least one ticket for “unauthorized camping.” Recently a woman who is homeless was lying with a blanket to stay warm on a rainy day. The law makes it illegal for anyone to sleep or sit and cover themselves against the elements with anything except their clothing. Denver police saw this camping ban violation and issued her a ticket. If convicted she can be sentenced to “up to $999 or one year in jail.” She will face a judge on this charge of sleeping and trying to stay warm on Monday November 4th at 8am. Anyone who wishes to be witness to this initial arraignment should come to the Lindsay Flanagan court house room 4A.

Six months after the Urban Camping Ban passed City Council, Denver Homeless Out Loud surveyed over 500 people experiencing homelessness about the impact of the camping ban on their lives (http://issuu.com/denverhomelessoutloud/docs/surveyreport). At that time there had been no tickets issued for urban camping. Instead people were being approached for sleeping or covering themselves, but were being given tickets for other charges, especially park curfew or trespassing. Most commonly people approached by police for camping ban violations were simply told to “move on.” But “move on” to where? 66% of survey respondents reported moving to more hidden or unsafe locations, and 20% reported they now sleep in more outlying neighborhoods or other cities. While 72% respondents slept outside before the ban, 64% still reported sleeping outside after the ban. In contrast, only 7% of respondents were able to get into independent housing. Furthermore, 37% of respondents sometimes chose not to cover themselves in the middle of winter in order not to violate the camping ban. Now, at least one woman who did use a blanket to try to stay warm has been charged with this “crime.”

This ticket was issued on October 1st, just two weeks before the Palm Restaurant became the second downtown Denver establishment to change its stance and oppose the urban camping ban. The Palm is a member of the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP), and both Palm and DDP  executives testified in favor of the Camping Ban when it was being considered in City Council. On October 17th the Palm published a statement noting the camping ban is not helping people who are homeless and should be repealed or amended http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2013/10/palm_boycott.php. In the past 6 months three States (Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Illinois) have passed Homeless Bills of Rights addressing people’s right to “acts of living” (i.e. sleeping, sitting/lying, eating) in public. In the past 3 months camping ban protests in Eugene, Oregon have led to amendments allowing all people who are homeless to set up tents and sleep in soon-to-be designated locations around the city.

Now that the Urban Camping Ban has been in effect in Denver for over a year and there are still thousands of people in Denver who are without a home or somewhere to legally “move on” to. Yet the question remains: Do people, like this woman who has just been issued a ticket for using a blanket to to stay warm, have a right to sleep and protect themselves the cold? Especially as winter approaches this becomes a question of life or death.

Response from Denver Homeless Out Loud to the Denver Post Editorial Board Criticism of The Denver Camping Ban: A Report from the Streets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Response from Denver Homeless Out Loud to the Denver Post Editorial Board Criticism of The Denver Camping Ban: A Report from the Streets

Denver, CO – July 2, 2013 – After the homeless advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) met with the Denver City Council’s Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee on June 25, the Denver Post wrote an editorial stating that the police were being unfairly represented in our survey about the camping ban and also stating that “we hope their report isn’t used as an excuse to re-open debate on the city’s homeless camping ban.”

The Denver Post editorial:
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_23555203/real-story-denver-camping-ban

The Denver Post editorial account of what happened at the meeting, executed before the scheduled police response to our report at a July 9 committee meeting, is both unfortunate and misleading. While the editorial implies that the DHOL report failed to include the police’s experience in enforcing the camping ban, in fact DHOL made multiple attempts to obtain police records for our report with no success. We also attempted to meet with Denver Police Chief Robert White in person prior to the meeting to discuss the report, and were told he was busy. He did not attend the committee meeting on June 25. DHOL also made a number of attempts to meet with the Denver Post Editorial Board to discuss the survey with them shortly after the release, and were told they were too busy with the State Legislature to meet with us.

The report we presented to the committee followed careful survey methodology and was based on surveying 512 homeless people, a number which equates to a sampling size of over 10% of those surveyed in Denver’s homeless count, conducted annually by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. By contrast, statements made by Chief White in the editorial were not backed up with any data whatsoever. We look forward to discussing our report in light of the data to be presented by the Denver Police Department, and to reconciling our varying perspectives at the July 9 City Council meeting.

Unfortunately, the editorial strikes us as an attack on the notion of homeless advocacy. It fails to recognize either the methodological integrity employed by the survey or the value of allowing homeless people’s voices to be heard, and it does nothing to advance the collaborative process in which we are engaging with the City Council.

The Denver Camping Ban Report’s data and individual stories by the homeless provide an extensive voice about the impact of the camping ban on their lives. It contains their perceptions about a law that puts them in intimate contact with the police.

A member of DHOL recently interviewed a 20-year-old homeless woman with two very young children about the impact of the camping ban on her family. You may go to the link below to watch this short interview, which underscores the urgency of continuing to monitor and address the negative effects of this ordinance on the most vulnerable among us.

DHOL remains hopeful that these initial meetings with the City Council committee will begin a process of collaboration among all parties–including homeless residents themselves–aimed at increasing the health and vitality of the city and all its people.

The full report can be read at:

http://issuu.com/denverhomelessoutloud/docs/surveyreport

Contact:
Denver Homeless Out Loud
info@denverhomelessoutloud.org
(303) 388-8435

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Denver Homeless Out Loud works to ensure that Denver’s homeless community has access to public space, adequate services, and a political voice in the City of Denver. Visit us at http://denverhomelessoutloud.org.

Homeless Advocacy Group to Present Urban Camping Ban Survey Findings to Denver City Council Committee June 25th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Homeless Advocacy Group to Present Urban Camping Ban Survey Findings to Denver City Council Committee June 25th

Denver, CO – June 20, 2013 – On Tuesday, June 25th at 1:30pm the homeless peoples’ advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) will discuss the impact of the Denver urban camping ban on homeless residents with the Denver City Council’s Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee (Room 391, City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St, Denver, Colorado 80202). DHOL will present findings and recommendations from its report, The Denver Camping Ban: A Report from the Street, released on April 3rd after surveying 512 homeless people last November and December to learn how the ban has affected them. The survey was professionally written to be unbiased and the data analyzed and report produced by Dr. Tony Robinson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at University of Colorado/Denver, who will present the information to the committee at the meeting. (more…)

Press Release: A Report from the Street

Report from the StreetCamping Ban Proves to be Counterproductive and Cruel

Survey finds law criminalizes activities necessary for homeless survival without providing alternatives.

By Chris Casey | University of Colorado Denver, University Communications

DENVER – Denver’s controversial “camping ban” has left the homeless no place to sleep outdoors safely and legally at night, forcing them into hidden spots or to seek indoor options that don’t exist, according to a report written by a University of Colorado Denver political science professor.

In collaboration with the Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) community group, Associate Professor Tony Robinson, Ph.D., compiled survey results of 512 homeless individuals regarding the Unauthorized Camping Ban. The 80-page report details the background of the ban, survey results and policy recommendations in the wake of one of the nation’s most severe laws against public homelessness. (more…)