In Denver, city councilmen are walking on dangerous ground with their announced plans to criminalize the homeless of the area. Their new policy would make urban camping and using a sleeping bag on the sidewalks and parks in Denver a crime. In their fight against protest groups like Occupy Denver, the city council’s bill would have more than a little collateral damage.
According to pamphlets being distributed by homeless advocates like Occupy Denver and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, over 12,000 people living in Denver are without a home, and would be directly hurt by this bill. Over two thirds of that number are parents with children. Denver’s shelters only have 867, otherwise this wouldn’t be as much of a problem.
The proposed city ordinance would set a dangerous precedent in the United States. If urban camping is banned in Denver, or in other cities, there would be nowhere for the homeless of Denver to go. Many of these people are without homes due to the economy, mental health, or other factors outside of their control. Without a home to go back to, their only choice has been to sleep in the street, and this new bill would take even that from them.
Advocacy groups handed out fliers and pamphlets on the situation, pleading passerby to convince the council to consider homes, not handcuffs, for the people of Denver. The groups are pessimistic, and worried that law makers won’t take the time to listen to those already deemed the voiceless of the city.