Reader: If You Care About the Homeless, Let Them Stay in Encampments

Reaching out to the homeless before the sweep.
Reaching out to the homeless before the sweep.
Brandon Marshall

While Denver officials grapple with Trump administration orders about refugees and immigration, they also have homegrown problems. At the end of January, the city conducted another sweep of a homeless encampment — but having apparently learned some lessons from the snafus of last spring, this time the city had much better coordination with service providers and communication with the homeless than during the previous sweeps. Even so, one reader thinks Denver would do better to leave the encampments alone. Writes Nancy:

Dear City of Denver, here's an idea to address the situation of houseless folks in encampments not wanting to go to shelters:

If you really care about them, let them remain in their encampments. They won't go to shelters and neither would I, and neither would you. The encampments are their best hope right now for enjoying some semblance of home and community—things that are essential to all people. Designate safe public lands for those encampments—places where needed services like meals and health care are easily accessible to them. Let them run those encampments, including providing security, themselves, with liaisons to the city and advocates if that's what's works best for everyone. Provide porta-potties or other sanitary facilities, clean drinking water, a means of staying warm, and trash removal services, in cooperation with the residents. Of course it's not nearly as good as providing housing, which they and all people have a right to, but since our society isn't willing to do what it takes to provide housing to all people who need and want it, then our society must allow alternative places that provide safety, cleanliness, dignity, and community to those human beings who this society is currently content to just throw away.

What do you think about Nancy's idea? What do you think Denver should do about the homeless situation?


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