DENVER (CBS4) – Are they criminals or merely homeless? A Denver Health and Safety committee got an earful about a proposed plan that would ban unauthorized camping in Denver.

Many of those present at the packed hearing on Tuesday wore buttons that said, “Houses Not Handcuffs,”

The ordinance would ban camping on both public and private property within the city of Denver.

Last fall CBS4 spent a good part of a night out on the 16th Street Mall where the people said there are two reasons they sleep there — for safety and because there is nowhere else to go.

The ordinance would call for people to be arrested if they violate the camping ban, but only if they first refuse to leave and efforts have been made to give them help.

“Our first option would be to call someone from the Outreach Program and have them actually, ultimately make an assessment, and do that referral for us,” Denver Police Chief Robert White said at the hearing.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless calls the ordinance unfair and shortsighted, saying the city should avoid policies that criminalize being homeless.

There will be another hearing before the measure is put up for a vote.


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