By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – A petition drive is underway for the City of Denver to create an “urban campground” for the homeless.

Zeek Gleason ,34, is divorced, has five children and he’s living on the streets.

But he’s a man with a plan to deal with the problem of homelessness.

Zeek Gleason (credit: CBS)

“I’m asking for the mayor to recognize us and we need more opportunities than shelter, fine or jail,” he told CBS 4’s Rick Sallinger. “It’ll get a designated area so police can actually go and regulate instead of finding your buddy frozen behind garbage can.”

Gleason would like to see the area include various services for the homeless.

Part of a homeless camp in downtown Denver. (credit: CBS)

His idea is not far fetched. Las Vegas created what’s called a “Corridor of Hope.”

It’s an area that provides services for the homeless like showers, lockers, laundry, mail and some housing.

The Colorado Coaliton for the Homeless has something similar in mind.

It wants surplus land near the Federal Center RTD rail station at 6th Avenue and Union Boulevard in Jefferson County.

The Coalition’s Vice President for Communications, Cathy Alderman says, “I think any time we can connect people with services and get them into safe spaces is a good idea.”

She says the land would provide 500-600 permanent housing units for the homeless plus services.

The General Services Adminstration attempted to auction off the land, but the Coalition cited a law that requires excess federal land to be offered for homeless services.

(credit: CBS)

They won in federal court and are now applying to the Department of Health and Human Services for approval.

What Gleason is proposing appears far less permanent, but would allow people to get off the streets and into a safer and more sanitary designated urban campground.

“It only takes a slight pebble to move mountains,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

The City of Denver says it will look at the petition once it is received.

DHS spokeswoman Julie Smith said, “All of our efforts are aimed at delivering good homes, good jobs, and services to improve overall health.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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