Homeless service providers and advocates have mixed feelings about a new order from a federal judge that Los Angeles must provide shelter to all unhoused people living on Skid Row by the fall.
In a rare move, Judge David Carter said LA’s decades of bad policy decisions have contributed to a disaster that can only be solved by forcing the city’s hand. But other legal experts see the order as getting the diagnosis right, but the remedy wrong.
Homeless advocates, including the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Denver Homeless Out Loud, who are bringing water and coronavirus tests to the camps, say it’s never been more obvious that Colorado needs better long-term solutions, mainly affordable housing. Sweeping the camps and booting people without homes out of downtown, advocates say, only pushes them to the underpasses, along the river paths and out to the suburbs.
People have always camped outside at night in Denver, but many of them spent their days at the public library or recreation centers or day shelters — places that have closed during the pandemic. Now, more people who are homeless set up camp and stay put all day.
Homeless camps in downtown Denver are “out of control” as the pandemic drags on. So what’s the solution?
One nonprofit counted 30 encampments and 664 tents. The tent cities are growing more persistent as Denver has backed off enforcing the camping ban.
DENVER — Anyone who drives by the Capitol can see a community in crisis.
For months, tents have filled the grounds of Lincoln Park just east of the building.
“The fact that we have a moment now where our mass homelessness is visible means that we have a moment to face reality and start working on real solutions which means housing,” said Terese Howard, an activist with Denver Homeless Out Loud.
“Corona Virus (COVID-19) puts people experiencing homelessness especially at-risk. At Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, our Stout Street Health Center staff are working diligently to provide services to our most vulnerable population during this crisis. We are in need of supplies for our staff and patients. Thank you for being a part of this effort! Shipping address: 2130 Stout St Denver, CO 80205 (Stout Street Health Center)”
Here’s their Amazon wishlist if you want to help out:
If you would like to help out, you can donate here:
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
“Rent is obscene here”: The issues forcing people in Seattle onto the street
Anderson Cooper visits a tent city in the Seattle area and hears from some of America’s more than 500,000 homeless people
Tricia Wood: I used to be one of those people that thought that if anyone was homeless they just needed to go get a job. That would solve their homeless problems.
Anderson Cooper: How would you answer that question now? Why can’t they just get a job?
Tricia Wood: Oh my goodness. Maybe they have a job.
Josiah Wood has a full-time job. He gets up before dawn and takes mass transit to work as a maintenance supervisor at the Hard Rock Café downtown. Though he makes $19.50 an hour, the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle would eat up half his salary. He and Tricia say they’ve been saving up money so they can afford a security deposit and monthly rent.
Anderson Cooper: How long do you think you’ll keep living in the tent city?
Tricia Wood: I would hope we are out of here by winter.
California, the country’s wealthiest and most populous state, also has the most homeless, an unremitting crisis that has confounded the state’s political leaders for decades and exposed one of the most extreme manifestations of economic inequality gripping the country.
Tent encampments — Oakland city officials count 90 of them — are now as much a part of the landscape as the bars and restaurants that cater to the city’s rising affluence. Many Americans are one medical emergency, one layoff, one family disaster away from bankruptcy or losing the roofs over their heads.
I was driving around Downtown Denver earlier today and drove past three people sleeping on the street, a few blocks from the ballpark. They didn’t have much baggage – no tents or sleeping bags, and one of them was in a large electric wheelchair. You see a lot of homeless people in Denver so I might not have registered these three, but that I had read this article earlier in the day, and I can’t see how someone survives being homeless in an electric wheelchair.