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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Denver Budget Proposals 2021

Denver Budget Proposals 2021

Sanitation Resources and Housing

Proposals drafted by Denver Homeless Out Loud

Sanitation Stations for Houseless Encampments: $700,000 

This will pay for the following:

-25 portable toilets, serviced 5 days a week

-Gift card of $70 a week payment for encampment resident employed to do extra cleaning of the portable toilet 

-Cleaning supplies 

-25 handwashing stations

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriff’s Department. 

Note: These cost estimates are based on our spending as DHOL on these services over the past 6 months. The City has an existing contract with Liberty Waste Management that could likely cover much of these costs, and at a much lower rate.

Trash Services for Houseless Encampments: $300,000

This will pay for the following:

-Doubling the size of the existing Triangle Works crew to employ at least 5 more homeless people to help clean the streets and encampments.

-Placing and servicing at least 50 trash cans at encampments where people live without trash services.

-Placing and servicing at least 5 dumpsters at larger encampments where people live without trash services.

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. 

Note: The cleaning crew cost estimates are based on Bayaud Enterprises cost of running the Triangle Works program. The trash can and dumpster cost estimates are based on estimates from companies and needs to be clarified with DOTI from their experience providing this service. 

Water for Houseless Encampments: $300,000

This will pay for the following:

-Water tap drinking water transfers for fire hydrants or other water sources

Or

-15, 55 gallon water jugs with spigot for drinking, filled 5 days a week  

Department:

This funding would make the most sense to go through either the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) or through the Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). If desired this could also go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. 

Note: These cost estimates need further clarification 

Hotel Housing for at least 2,000 Houseless People: $51,000,000

This will pay for the following:

-The City recently spent $17,000,000 on an existing contract with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to run hotel rooms for at 670+ people. If we triple this spending we could house at least 2,000 housless people in hotels. This could house the entire population of shelter guests (noted at 900) plus another 1,100 people staying outside or in other houseless situations. 

Department:

This funding would go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriffs Department. It could also come from the existing shelter budget as all shelter guests could be moved to these hotels. 

Note: These cost estimates could use further clarification from HOST and CCH on existing hotel costs and time frames. 

Housing for at least 4,171 Houseless People: $834,200,000

This will pay for the following:

-The City has stated that each “affordable” housing unit costs them about $200,000. Based on this estimate this proposed housing budget should house the total number of people counted homeless in 2020. This does not mean all homeless people as the PIT is a known undercount, but it would be a good start. 

Department:

This funding would go through the Department of Housing Stability (HOST).

Funding Source:

This funding can come from relocation of funds from the Police or Sheriff’s Department. It could also come from the existing shelter budget as all shelter guests could be moved to this housing. 

Note: The cost of creating attainable housing units from the ground up vs as vouchers for existing units vs renovation of existing non-functional hotels/housing vs tiny homes or other alternative housing on vacant land all differ. But if all this 800+ million went directly to creating housing all of the 4,171 counted houseless people could be housed. 

Additional Process Note: Some of these proposals have been moved forward by Councilwomen Candi CdeBaca (D9). The rest of City Council will have an opportunity to support these basic needs by voting in favor of those proposals.

Lawsuit Filed Against the Sweeps and the City’s Ongoing Violations of Lawsuit Settlement

Lawsuit Filed Against the Sweeps and the City’s Ongoing Violations of Lawsuit Settlement

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Plaintiff speaks at press conference today announcing the lawsuit

Today, October 5th 2020, a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction was filed against the City of Denver for violating constitutional rights of homeless individuals, and violating the agreed upon settlement from Lyall v CIty of Denver, in on-going sweeps. The suit is filed by Andrew McNaulty of Killmer Lane and Newman on behalf of 10 homeless individuals as well as all others in the class of homeless people and those of us from Denver Homeless Out Loud who have suffered from sweeps. This case seeks an injunction to stop the homeless sweeps (and enforcement of the Camping Ban) during the COVID-19 pandemic (and afterwards), the seizure of homeless individuals’ property without notice, the destruction of homeless individuals’ property, and the continuing violation of the Lyall v. Denver settlement agreement. 

This lawsuit comes after a series of egregious sweeps conducted by the City with no notice at Lincoln Park at the end of July, Morey Middle School at the beginning of August, and along the South Platte River a week ago. In addition, at least 20 other sweeps, plus daily camping ban enforcement, have continued to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The City cannot continue to blatantly violate the rights of people without housing and furthermore violate the settlement agreement they made with the homeless community to give proper notice prior to sweeps and to store property instead of trashing it. The City cannot continue to ignore CDC guidance to not sweep and to instead provide sanitation resources where people live in encampments. 

Plaintiffs in this case lost medications, irreplaceable memorabilia, all their protection from the elements, and have been pushed into congregate shelters where one lead plaintiff with a heart condition could have died when they caught COVID.

Our City refuses to listen to the cries of the people to stop this inhumane insanity, so we have no choice but to take this cry to the courts.

City Planning Sweep and Closure of Encampment Just after COVID Testing Found Zero Positive Cases in this Encampment

City Planning Sweep and Closure of Encampment Just after COVID Testing Found Zero Positive Cases in this Encampment

STOP THE TERROR!! HOUSING NOT SWEEPS!!

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On Wednesday June 17th 2020 the City, using the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), is planning a sweep and closure of all the encampments along 22nd, Stout, and Champa. There are about 97 tents in this area which means roughly 250 people. These are the very same camps that just tested for COVID and found zero positive cases. They are planning this sweep without even replying to the demand of the camp residents that decision makers with DDPHE come to the streets and meet with them to hear the needs of residents and how to really address health and safety needs. They are planning this sweep without giving any reply to the letter we sent laying out solutions to the issues they raised (see attached). They are planning this sweep regardless of CDC guidance which states that encampments should not be swept during COVID and instead bathrooms and handwashing stations should be provided. 

This sweep and closure also goes directly against the agreement from the Mayor’s office to “not displace people or their property during this emergency” and then later the agreement to allow people to return to the area after a sweep. The Mayor will not stop lying to us. 

Why are they doing this?? To try and push people out of sight out of mind, to appease businesses and neighbors, and to make it look like they are doing something about visible homelessness as is directed by Mayor Hancock. Will they achieve their goals with this sweep? NO. Is this about Health and Safety as they say it is? NO. As is shown in the COVID test results where 0 people test positive at encampments, whereas at least 106 have tested positive at shelters, it is healthier for people to stay outside in a tent than in a shelter. Yet, regardless of all the evidence DDPHE and the City are still telling people to go to leave their tents and go to shelters. 

Again we must make these demands the City and DDPHE:

  • Schedule a meeting with a decision maker in DDPHE to with encampment residents before Wednesday (contact us at DHOl to schedule this street meeting).
  • Start meeting the actual health and safety needs of encampment residents by providing trash cans, dumpsters, port-a-potties, handwashing stations, and other sanitation needs. 
  • Call off the Sweep!! Start investing in HOUSING not SWEEPS.  

Demand Governor Polis Open Up HOUSING NOW!!

Mandamus Filed to Mandate Housing Be Opened for Houseless

Demand Governor Polis Open Up HOUSING NOW!!

Yesterday we filed a Writ of Mandamus in court aiming to get the State of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to do their job: Protect the people of Colorado in this health crisis by mandating existing empty housing be opened for Coloradans living in shelters and on streets. Homeless individuals and homeless advocacy organizations across from the state of Colorado joined together as plaintiffs in this case, filed by attorney Jason Flores-Williams, because across Colorado cities are not opening housing needed to keep our communities safe. Opening new congregate shelters with more space, or putting those showing symptoms in hotels, does not stop the spread of this virus. Individualized housing is necessary. Everyone must have a home to be able to follow stay at home orders. 

The Governor of Colorado, now Gov Jared Polis, has the explicit authority in a state of emergency to “commandeer or utilize any private property if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the disaster emergency;” and to “Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing C.R.S. 24-33.5-704(7)(i).”

There are about 19,452 unoccupied housing units in Denver as well as ones across the state. Plus, as the COVID crisis has largely stopped travel, the large majority of hotel rooms across the nation are sitting empty – between apartments and hotels there is plenty to house all those without housing in Colorado. 

Governor Polis must use this authority NOW to issue an order for vacant houses, apartments, or hotels to be opened up for people without housing at this time. 

See the the letter to Governor Polis in the sign on link. 

Be part of the call for HOUSING NOW! Sign on as an organization or an individual to support the letter to Governor Polis. Sign up to help make this happen. 

Housing is for all – not to be hoarded by the rich sitting empty.

Denver Homeless Out Loud, Boulder Rights Watch, Safe Access for Everyone, Fort Collins Homeless Coalition, Grand Junction Solidarity Not Charity

LEGAL ACTION FILED FOR HOUSING TO BE OPENED FOR HOUSELESS IN THIS COVID-19 CRISIS

LEGAL ACTION FILED FOR HOUSING TO BE OPENED FOR HOUSELESS IN THIS COVID-19 CRISIS

Writ of Mandamus Filed TODAY — Press Release Below

Denver, CO—Homeless advocacy groups have come together from around the State to address the nightmare confronting thousands of Colorado homeless during this pandemic crisis. A brutal Hobson’s choice, where homeless can either sleep in overcrowded shelters in beds inches from people exhibiting classic symptoms of the disease, or out on the streets where they are often the victims of abuse and violent crime.

The conditions in shelters and state mismanagement of homelessness in the time of pandemic, not only affects Coloradans suffering homelessness, but towns and cities across Colorado as the shelters serve as ideal hotspots for spread and retransmission of the virus. As of press time, at least ten homeless persons in shelters have tested positive for Covid-19. The number is almost certainly much higher as testing has been widely unavailable.

In a rare move, these groups courageously advocating for the invisible, voiceless and most vulnerable in our society are demanding, through this Extraordinary Petition, that the State fulfill its obligations with regard to public health and take steps to immediately mitigate the conditions in the shelters by providing housing to the homeless during this crisis. Cities and states around the country are stepping up to provide housing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, e.g. Santa Fe, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Connecticut. Colorado must follow and go beyond by protecting every person in this state. 

The Extraordinary Petition was filed this morning.

Mayor’s Office Says Will Not “Clear” Encampments During COVID Emergency, But Tries to Say They Can Still Enforce the Survival Ban

Mayor’s Office Says Will Not “Clear” Encampments During COVID Emergency, But Tries to Say They Can Still Enforce the Survival Ban

Displacement is displacement under any name.

On Tuesday evening March 24th, after a demand letter was sent to the Mayor in the morning from District 9 and a long list of other elected officials and community organizations, the Mayor’s office told the media that they “have continued to clean encampment areas but we are not clearing them during this public health situation.” Since the city has tried to avoid using the word “sweep” referring to their practice of displacing people and property at encampments and instead used the word “clean ups,” we followed up with the Mayor’s office to seek clarity on this statement. We asked, “when you say not “clearing” camps does this mean no one or their property will be displaced from that location?” The answer from the Mayor’s office was “Correct.” 

Otherwise put, the Mayor’s office has said they will not be displacing people or their property at encampments during this COVID emergency. 

However, the Mayor’s office is also trying to act like they can somehow still enforce the survival ban at the same time. In another media interview the Mayor’s office said, “the city wasn’t reconsidering enforcing the camping ban.” The statement that they will not be displacing people or their property during this emergency, and the statement that they will continue to enforce the camping ban, cannot coexist. Enforcing the camping ban, by its very nature, displaces people and their property. 

The only way the city could enforce the ban and not displace people or their property would be to give people attainable housing they can move into now and stay in permanently. The city still does not have any plan to provide housing for all who are without during this crisis or beyond.

We will be holding the city to the statement that they will not be displacing people or their property at encampments during this COVID emergency. If the city sends police to displace people from public property – whether it be under the camping ban or under what the city calls “clean ups” or under any other law – we will be holding them to this promise to not displace our community during this pandemic.  

Furthermore, in spite of the CDC’s guidance on providing sanitation resources instead of sweeping encampments, the Mayor’s office made no commitments to provide the needed porta-lets or handwashing stations to encampments. These sanitation resources are always needed, but especially now they must be provided directly at encampments. We will continue to demand the Mayor’s office follow through on this need in accordance with the CDC guidelines. 

Denver Must Buy Housing for Houseless People as COVID Health Response

Denver Must Buy Housing for Houseless People as COVID Health Response

How are you supposed to self-quarantine, have social distance, get rest, wash your hands regularly, or any of the guidelines for protection in this health crisis if you don’t have a home? You can’t. 

If this city is going to respond to the health of the whole community – which is ever so more clearly interconnected these days – they must buy or rent hotels, vacant buildings, or houses where people without housing can have the option to follow these community safety guidelines.

This has been done in other cities such as Seattle WA. It can be done here in Denver.

Here are a few vacant hotels or buildings we suggest the City of Denver buy or rent (or ensure vouchers for at least one month) immediately for people without housing.

  • Old VA Hospital on 9th and Colorado (1700 N Wheeling St Aurora, CO 80045)
  • Vacant Hotels Along Colfax
  • Vouchers for vacant apartments and/or hotel rooms
  • RV’s can be rented by the city and parked in government parking lots or other places for people to live
  • Any vacant city buildings or land should be used for housing (even tents if needed)

We also call on churches, community groups, anyone who has space to provide housing to a couple people in these times.

Furthermore, while the city is taking minimal steps to address our demands, most of these basic askes are still not being met by the city. We remind all that our resilience is interconnected. The lasting negative effects of the shut down of our city will have serious effects on those currently without housing, and those who will more likely be without housing soon…

Below are our demands we sent out on March 13th 2020 – noting what the city has done, and what still needs done:

  • Moratorium on encampment sweeps – Police enforcement of the survival ban is still happening. Just this morning some people living outside were woken by police. To have a real halt on jailing people for low-level offenses as the city declared they will do, this must include threatening people with jail verbally or with tickets.
  • Access to hygiene outside – The city has installed additional hand washing stations around town. This is good. However, they have still refused to place port-a-lets and hand washing stations near encampments where larger groups live outside and need these resources most.
  • Sanitation in shelters – The city is making call outs for sanitation supplies in shelters and is looking into opening a couple rec centers for additional shelter space. This is one step. However, we want to see this additional space is truly opened and that all the other sanitation needs listed in our demands, including dividing walls, are provided.
  • Health Care – There still is not any medics hitting the streets checking in for folks who need testing.
  • Moratorium on evictions – The city did state that the city will not be sending sheiffs to conduct evictions. This is very good. However, further clarity is needed on what that means for people who are facing evictions now or may face evictions if they cannot pay their rent. Will people have rent costs waived? Or will the city cover costs for those who cannot pay at this time? Will people not be evicted now only to find they own three months of rent later and are evicted with no way to catch up on the costs?
  • Housing – While the city is looking into hotel options this has not been actualized yet, and we are concerned it will only be for people who are showing symptoms and not include all those who are homeless forced to live in shelters and on the streets in vulnerable situations. We as a city and as a society must ensure there are housing options available for all to live healthy and safe. Please send the us and the city ideas for housing, hotels, buildings, land, ect that can be used to meet our communities need.

Demands of the Unhoused Community Regarding COVID-19 Response

Demands of the Unhoused Community Regarding COVID-19 Response

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Mayor Hancock’s declaration of the state of emergency leaves the unhoused community out with no protection. As people without housing are unable to follow the CDC’s guidelines without a house to wash up, get rest, isolate oneself, ect. our city must take action to protect all those without housing in at least the following ways:

  • Maritorum on encampment sweeps
  • Access to hygiene outside
  • Sanitation in shelters
  • Health Care
  • Moratorium on evictions 
  • Housing

(See further details below) 

Other major cities have suspended encampment sweeps to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Earlier today, the City of San Jose published the following emergency alert:

Encampment Abatements: In coordination with public health officials, the Housing Department has temporarily suspended abatements of homeless encampments to avoid the possibility of unintentionally putting anyone at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

It’s on the San Jose’s emergency response website, here: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/news-stories/news/emergency-notifications. Denver should do the same (and to include a moratorium on Camping Ban enforcement). The unhoused are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. This vulnerability is exacerbated by being forced into closed-air, close contact with others (which would necessarily include shelters). 

With the spread of COVID-19, we must remember that our communities’ health is interconnected — we must ensure adequate medical care and hygiene for every person, especially those who are unhoused. We should resist any further stigmatization of those living in encampments or shelters. If the virus spreads to unhoused communities, we must ensure they are provided the resources to prevent infection and further spread of the virus. We insist that public officials follow the policies and procedures outlined below to best ensure the health of both our unhoused and housed communities.

Moratorium on encampment sweeps, closures and vehicle tows. Encampment sweeps and closures shall be ended due to the necessity for sustained public health outreach and disease control. No vehicles shall be towed that house people which allow them to self-quarantine. Stable encampments and sleeping accommodations will reduce the spread of disease among unsheltered and general population through consistent access to services and ability for outreach and health workers to provide continuous care. Stable encampments will enable better contact investigation and epidemiological controls necessary. With increased risk of disease spread at shelters where one is in closed-air, close contact with others, many people will not take this risk of staying at shelters and instead must stay on the streets where one can have more space and open air to protect from catching disease. 

It may be necessary for local public officials to fund designated encampments staffed with public health providers, hygiene supplies, food and water, with the ability to separate by risk, infected status, isolation, etc.

Moratorium on arrests for crimes of poverty. Arrests shall be halted for loitering, camping, criminal trespassing, or other crimes of poverty.

Access to health and hygiene. Portable toilets that are regularly maintenanced and handwashing stations shall be placed in areas accessible to large unhoused populations and encampments. Trash cans shall be placed near encampments to reduce trash pile up. Hand sanitizer shall be distributed to unhoused people along with information about avoiding and preventing COVID-19. Many more portable toilets and hand-washing stations regularly stocked with soap should be placed around areas where homeless people congregate – along Cherry Creek, the S. Platte River, the neighborhoods around downtown Denver, in all parks. Medical care shall be provided on-location for those who are unable or unwilling to enter hospitals due to substance use or mental health concerns.

Housing accomodations. Housing accommodations, potentially including modular units, shall be arranged immediately for anyone infected who does not have the ability to self-quarantine, as has been done in the Seattle area. If necessary, civil facilities including temporary emergency housing or unused public buildings shall be used to quarantine those who live in a particular encampment or area. This shall include safe parking programs for people who are vehicularly housed.

Shelters. Staff shall regularly sanitize and disinfect surfaces to prevent contamination. Hand washing stations should be located throughout the shelter, not just sinks in bathrooms. Mats and beds should be moved at least 12 feet away from another. Additional shelter space may need to be opened to accommodate this space needs. City buildings can assist in this need. Churches should also take action to assist in this need. Individual isolation accommodations shall be arranged immediately for anyone infected and anyone who is known to have been exposed to the virus. Shelters should provide a surgical mask to each guest daily to reduce the spread of colds, flu and the coronavirus within the shelter and help guests avoid touching their nose or mouth. Efforts should be made by shelters to serve healthy food that will help to alkalize the body to reinforce the immune system and  make the body inhospitable for viruses. Those staying in shelters shall have access to harm reduction tools and shall not be denied service for any rule violations short of violence. Shelters shall be opened 24/7. The city should review procedures developed for nursing homes to see what can be implemented for shelters. For example dividers can be used to create more space between individuals mats. 

Moratorium on Evictions. No one should be evicted from housing. That housing is necessary for people to follow the CDC’s guidelines and try to protect themselves and the community at large from further disease spread. City police should be stopped from assisting in any evictions. Other major cities including Miami have made such a declaration ending evictions. 

Health Care Emergency Response. Medical professionals shall be deployed to provide testing for people living on the streets and in shelters. All testing and treatment shall be free. 

Consider this a wake-up call. Many of these services are necessary to maintain public health and should continue to be offered until every person has a stable home.

Denver Homeless Out Loud

https://denverhomelessoutloud.org/

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

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Western Regional Advocacy Projecthttps://wraphome.org/

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Marbut and Carson in Denver believed to be meeting with Hancock: Protest Feb 21st 12noon

Trump’s Homelessness Director Robert Marbut and Master HUD Budget Cutter Ben Carson, in Denver, believed to be Meeting with Mayor Hancock

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Protest: Friday February 21st 2020 12noon at City Hall (14th and Bannock)

Denver, CO — Last month Trump fired the old head of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USIACH) and appointed Robert Marbut – a long time advocate of homeless concentration camps, criminalization, and housing only for “deserving” individuals. 

Marbut does not believe in Housing First but instead believes all homeless individuals have to be “fixed” before they deserve housing. The “Velvet Hammer, approach” Marbut offers the same basic advice to most cities: Cut the goodies and build shelter-like jail facilities. He believes food sharing, public sleeping, and other survival activities should be criminalized so as to push people into facilities where they have to “behave.” 

Sound familiar? Marbut and Hancock’s approach to homelessness is uncannily similar when you boil it down. Both believe in using police as a “stick” to push people into warehouses. Both perpetuate the narrative that homeless people are homeless due to personal faults and need to deal with their “behavior” more than they need housing. Both believe warehousing people through force, not choice, is the way to deal with homelessness. 

Furthermore, this week Trump and Carson, director of Department of Housing and Urban Development  (HUD), proposed cuts to the 2020 HUD budget amounting over 4.2billion from 2019 levels. Instead of investing in more low income public housing, this budget cuts funding for low income housing and invests in turning public housing into private housing that can quickly shift to market increases. Since 2013, this process – called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – has converted 130,035 units of public housing to private ownership, with another 99,019 units in the process of conversion. Under Trump and Carson’s plans there will be thousands more people losing their housing every week.

In place of these proposed housing cuts, these men are likely going to be dangling money in front of Denver IF they agree to use it on things like “transformational campuses” (aka concentration camps), policing, or other types of individual behavior focused facilities.

This is what happened in LA. In LA not long after Marbut and Carson’s visit, steps are being taken to create “involuntary concentration camp style” facilities far out of LA to “put” homeless people, and massive sweeps have just been waged on Skid Row. We cannot let the same thing happen here in Denver!@# 

Warehousing human’s through various forms of force has been unequivocally deemed WRONG in the past and that has not changed.

We cannot sit back silently as these tyrants meet to plan furthering the war on our housing, survival, and freedom.

Join us in the following actions:

  • Contact Mayor Hancock and tell him you will not stand for him meeting Marbut or Carson!  Tell him human beings cannot be forced into warehouse-like concentration camps. Tell him public low-income housing is a right not a luxury and he must fight Carson’s proposed public housing cuts. Tell him not to take money with unjust strings attached. Call 720-865-9000 
  • Protest this Meeting in person on February 21st 12noon at City Hall. Stay tuned for details on place and time. 
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Read three attachments on Robert Marbut and on Ben Carson’s HUD Cuts.  

Contact:

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

Judge Rules Denver Camping Ban Unconstitutional!!! Violates 8th Amendment of “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

Today, Judge Barajas, a Denver County Court Judge, ruled the Denver Camping Ban unconstitutional based on 8th amendment violation of “cruel and unusual punishment.” The judge found that homeless people, like Jerry Burton whose ticket led this case, cannot be criminalize for using cover to try and survive outside when they have no other option. The judge recognized the insurmountable limits of the shelter system including hours or access, people who are banned, and all different reasons shelters are not an option for people. Human beings cannot be forced into shelter like jail, and this ruling shows any reasonable person can understand the mere existence of a space in a shelter does not make that a viable or livable option for someone to be. Hence criminalizing people for being poor with no home and surviving on the streets is cruel and unconstitutional.

This ruling comes only days after the Supreme Court let stand the 9th circuit court ruling that camping bans are unconstitutional on similar grounds. 

The local ruling of Judge Barajas does not in itself repeal the unconstitutional Camping Ban. It finds the law unconstitutional and dismisses Jerry Burton’s case. An actual repeal requires action either from a higher court or from Denver City Council.

Denver City Council should act immediately under this ruling to align the city law with the constitution and repeal the Unauthorized Camping Ban!!! To continue to keep this law on the books is not only unconstitutional, it puts the city at risk of spending millions more dollars appealing this ruling to a higher court just to get the same ruling – you can’t criminalize people for survival. 

Message to Denver City Council: Act NOW and repeal this UNCONSTITUTIONAL law. Direct Denver police to stop enforcing this unconstitutional law by getting the law off the books NOW. 

This ruling makes it ever more clear that cities only option to “solving” homelessness is creating attainable housing. Sweeping people out of sight will not be an option any more.

This case was led by attorney Andrew McNalty of Kilmore, Lane, and Newman. Thanks for all of his hard work on this critical case!!