Although the city has yet to set up its own Safe Outdoor Spaces location, two safe-camping sites opened last month in Capitol Hill, both hosted by churches and run by nonprofit service providers.
One site is reserved for women and trans individuals, the other for three dozen men. The day before that facility at 16th Avenue and Pearl Street opened, Conor McCormick-Cavanagh spent a night there; he returned this week to see how the concept had weathered its first month.
There have been some challenges — two men evicted for fighting — as well as some real achievements. "I knew in my heart that it was going to be a success," site manager Cuica Montoya says. "But it was a much greater success than what I could have anticipated."
On the Westword Facebook post of "A Month In, Safe Outdoor Space Residents Happy to Live in Peace," commenters share plenty of thoughts, not all of them happy. Says Erik:
Grateful for the positive news. Dealing with the large number of people experiencing homelessness is going to take a myriad of solutions; there is no single silver bullet. These sanctioned camps seem like they can certainly help move things in the right direction.
Look around any sanctioned camp. Just go drive through Denver for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. I just live down here. And I’m moving out. This city is ruined and will only continue to decline. Sad. Sad. Sad.
At least a little help and a safe place to sleep. A little humanity.
Such a great approach. And, the neighbors are happier as well. Win-win!
Not so fast, replies Scott:
Imagine living in those $2,000 a month apartments overlooking all that free housing wondering where you went wrong in your life.
Why not allow people to be comfortable, with this one life they have? I think the greater majority of the blame lands with the social, economic and political forces and inequities that ultimately drive people to these situations, including lack of access to quality mental health care as a prime malefactor.
This is all very encouraging but it's a tiny drop in the ocean.
Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
If more churches of most faiths practiced faithfully, there would be much more direct aid like this to the downtrodden. They would lift them up. Halleluja.
What do you think of the two safe-camping sites hosted by churches? Do you support Mayor Michael Hancock adminstration's setting up additional locations? Post a comment or share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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