DENVER (AP) — Officials in Denver are planning to evict people from homeless camps that have popped up around homeless shelters and in public places, saying they pose health and safety risks.
Beginning on Tuesday, the city will begin removing items like tarps, used furniture and other property and take the items to a storage facility, where owners will have 30 days to reclaim them.
Support groups for the homeless say many people don’t want to stay in shelters, even though there is enough room, because they are concerned about sanitation and having their freedom restricted by house rules.
“The shelters are not a good place for us,” Alexis Ross, 20, told The Denver Post in September. He said they are unclean and full of bedbugs. “That is why we are in the street.”
Julie Smith, a city spokeswoman, said the city has worked hard to help homeless people find shelter.
“Together, through this intensive and focused effort, we have helped hundreds of people and supported the community,” Smith said in a statement to The Post. “However, the health, safety and welfare of those who continue to live outside on the streets and sidewalks is nearing a crisis. This unsafe, unhealthy, unsanitary and inhumane situation must be addressed.”
The city says the downtown Rescue Mission and overflow shelters have been at 79 percent capacity, and no shelters have been turning people away. The city also says 650 people have been given medical and mental health help, food, bus passes, housing and other services in recent months.
John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said the plan to evict the homeless would be costly and counterproductive, the Denver Post reported.
“The real solution to this issue is developing additional safe and appropriate emergency shelter and creating enough housing and service options so that those currently living on the streets can move into long-term housing for good,” he said.