Update on City (In)Action Re Needs of the Unhoused in this COVID Crisis
From Denver Homeless Outloud – A Call for Action!
New images from the Men’s Shelter at the National Western Stockshow property:
As you can see in these pictures, the new men’s shelter at the National Western does not provide the social distancing it was made out to provide. Sleeping coats appear to be about 4 feet apart. Buses coming to the shelter are packed tight with people. There is slightly more space than the former men’s shelters folks came from, but definitely not to the par of social distancing standards in this pandemic. 600 men in one room are still sharing the same air, surfaces, ect.
Over the past 4 plus weeks of the COVID emergency, we have been demanding action from the City and the State to protect all of us – including those of us without housing. Below is an update on what the City and State is and is not doing to date to meet these demands for basic protection.
End the Sweeps and Survival Ban Enforcement:
Sweeps – We did get the Mayor’s office to agree to “not displace people or their property from encampments during this state of emergency.” This has been largely followed…which makes life a lot safer and better for folks on the street right now. But it has not been followed all the time and they are pushing the “grey areas.” See detail on ways below…
Tents Down – Instead of telling people to move along in camping ban enforcement, police have been telling people to drop their tents in the day. How are people supposed to stay at home if their tent, the only thing they have as a home, is dropped down? Police should be directed to cease this harmful demand.
Public Property – Police have frequently threatened camps with move on orders that are on public property saying they were on private property. Police need to understand what is public property vs private. If they are enforcing move-on orders on private property it should be under the initiative of the private property owner, not the police.
Park Property – While park property does have curfews, many cities across the US are waiving curfew hours and allowing folks to stay in camps on park property during this pandemic. This should be done here as well. People have been swept from parks regularly here in Denver.
Police Harassment – Some police continue to harass people for any number of unnecessary reasons.
Sanitation Resources at Encampments:
Hand Washing Stations – To date, the City has not installed any hand-washing station at encampments. The only hand-washing stations that have been placed directly at encampments are placed and maintained by the group Mutual Aid Denver.
Portable Bathrooms – To date, the City has not installed any port-a-potties at encampments. With businesses and libraries closed also those options for places to use the bathroom are gone. People are forced to relieve themselves on the streets or maybe at a crowded day center.
Trash Cans – To date, the City has not installed any trash cans at encampments. People are forced to wait on random “cleanings” with designated places for trash or regular set trash pick up.
Health Care, Education – To date, the City has made some efforts to provide information and hand sanitizer. However, this has not been to the scale of the need.
To date, the City has 270 hotel units made available for people who are homeless and showing signs and symptoms. This is at least 3,673 units short of the need (that is using PIT court which is a known under-count) and is still only for those who are sick, not the general homeless community.
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