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Reader: Why Are We Punishing the Homeless?

Reader: Why Are We Punishing the Homeless?
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For the fourth year in a row, Colorado legislators killed a bill that would have protected a person's right to rest, sleep or eat in public (with some exceptions). It was a devastating blow to the homeless community, many of whom testified at an eight-hour hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14.

The Right to Rest bill, as it was known, died 10-3 in a committee that notoriously killed last year's version of the bill. Advocates who testified for the bill included the ACLU of Colorado; law enforcement agencies and city officials from around the state testified against it. Our readers, however, tend to support the proposal. Says Chris:

Seriously. WTF is wrong with this city? Rent doubles in two years, homeless people are increasing, not decreasing, and our collective answer is to punish them more? How about a little compassion? I'm going to guess that the people who voted this down likely claim some sort of religious belief, too. SMDH.

Adam responds:

Has anyone been downtown? Law or not they sleep, shit, and use drugs everywhere and make the place terrible.

Buster asks:

Jeeeez, why are we punishing the homeless? One day these public policies will hit home with the jerks who made them. Blue juice when we can't pay our taxes??!!

Concludes Richard:

You can practically smell the white privilege!

Keep reading for more stories about homelessness in Denver.

The Humanity storefront on Welton Street.
The Humanity storefront on Welton Street.
Facebook/Impact Locallly

"A Free Clothing Store for the Homeless Is Opening in Five Points"

A rendering of the housing complex CCH is proposing in Lakewood.
A rendering of the housing complex CCH is proposing in Lakewood.
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

"A Massive Complex in Lakewood Could House 1,000 Homeless"

A November 15, 2016, sweep of the homeless in Denver.
A November 15, 2016, sweep of the homeless in Denver.
Brandon Marshall

"Homeless Class Action Lawsuit Could Be Heading Toward 'Monster Trial'"

Reader: Why Are We Punishing the Homeless?
Westword

"Yes, Denver Buses the Homeless to Other Parts of the U.S., but It's Not Nefarious"

Well aware of the bill’s fate last year in the same committee (where it was struck down 8-5), the representatives who pushed this year's Right to Rest bill had delayed the hearing in order for the bill to be heard by the Judiciary Committee, where they felt it had a greater chance of passing. But the bill ultimately stayed with the Local Government Committee, and its prospects of passing were again slim.

Most of the hundreds of people packing the room at the Capitol supported the bill. Compared with last year's proceedings, though, there were more testimonials in opposition from city officials and law enforcement personnel from Greeley, Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs.

Don Mares, executive director of Denver Human Services, was there representing the city's interests and rolled out an argument familiar to those who have followed the bill over the past four years: It won’t solve homelessness, because the bill itself doesn’t provide housing or additional services. Mares said it was Denver’s position that allowing people to “sleep on the cold concrete” is "not a way to live" and is “inhumane.”

What do you think about homelessness in Denver? Comment on this story or send an email to  editorial@westword.com.

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