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Reader: Have Some Compassion for the Homeless

The city cleaned streets and sidewalks May 7.
The city cleaned streets and sidewalks May 7.
Evan Semón

On May 7, the city did another cleanup of the streets northeast of downtown in RiNo. Even though the city has opened two big temporary shelters for homeless individuals during the coronavirus pandemic, dozens of tents have been popping up.

But shelters don't work for many people, homeless-service providers point out, and they're looking at solutions like a safe parking site for those who live in their cars, and a safe site in the city for those who want to pitch tents. In both cases, the homeless would have more access to services that could help them get off the streets.

Readers, like elected officials, are divided over the best ways to handle the situation. Says Derrick: 

So you are kicking them out of a general area, causing them to spread out in neighborhoods all over metro Denver? Brilliant!!!

Comments Quinton: 

Camping in tents is for the woods ... we’re in America. There’s tons of raw land everywhere; they shouldn’t be allowed to block sidewalks and just set up camp wherever they want! I feel for them, but there’s a time and a place for everything... and this is definitely not the time or place!

Adds Vannessa: 

They need to leave permanently!!! We can camp on our streets but not in state parks.

Asks Kim:

I am not a huge fan of homeless encampments in the city....but where are they supposed to go? Does Denver have shelter space for all these folks?

Responds Federico: 

Yes, sometimes there is no space, sometimes they don't want to be there. They like the streets because many times they dont like to follow rules implemented in shelters.

Counters Shawn: 

There's no such thing as a homeless shelter, there's government institutions which are run even worst than jails. If you wouldn't willingly commit yourself to jail time, why would you go to homeless shelter? You seem to think that finding a place to sleep is the only problem while you complain about all the places they find to sleep other than those shitty beds stacked one on top of another in rooms of hundreds of people, separated from your family and children with so many restrictions that work is impossible and no place to call your own or ability improve your standing and grow your wealth. One must have a place that provides security for their belongings, stability to create a routine, and access to hygiene needs to be a contributing member of society. Homeless shelters actively prevent any of this from happening.

And then there's this from Kyndri:

 I see a lot of people speaking from a place of privilege. The "homeless issue" is much more of a mental-health issue. I have bipolar disorder and PTSD, along with a series of other disasters, and I struggle to hold down a job. I work my ass off and sometimes things do not work out. And I'm lucky enough to have a support network that can catch me if ends don't meet. A lot of these people are alone. They have nobody to reach out to, they don't have the technology to apply to jobs (because they're all online now), they don't have the resources to get what they need, and the problem is compounded by shitty lawmakers who punish people for being poor.

Have a little tiny bit of compassion and recognize that the average American is two bad weeks from being homeless. We have enough empty houses in our country to house every single homeless person twice. The fact that human beings are forced to sleep outside because you never went to preschool and learned to share is horrifying and awful.

Our May 6 cover story detailed the efforts to set up safe parking sites for those who move into their cars, usually as a last resort.

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“You have people right now who are not being served; they’re sort of dispersed out in the community,” says proponent Chelsey Baker-Hauck. “Safe parking programs bring them together a little bit more in a place where they could sleep safely. They’re not going to get beat up, they’re not going to get robbed. They’re going to be able to sleep through the night. They’re not going to have a policeman tapping on their window waking them up at 3 a.m. because a neighbor called. You’re stabilizing them just by doing that much.”

What do you think of plans for safe sites for camping, as well as safe parking sites for the homeless? Read our safe-parking-site cover story here, and see our slideshow of the May 7 cleanup here.

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