By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Homeless camps in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood have been raising concerns among neighbors. Matina Soutous, a resident for more than 10 years, is one of those who is increasingly worried.

(credit: CBS)

“Every time I looked there was one camp and then there was two camps and three camps,” she said.

Eventually she says the camps became more than eyesore, they became a health concern.

“We were like looking at needles on the ground in the parkways in the parks,” Soutsos said.

Matina Soutous (credit: CBS)

She reached out to the city for help keeping the area clean, when she didn’t hear back she took matters into her own hands.

“We just decided ‘Well let’s go get some plastic bags and see what we can do.’ We gave each one two bags and I said ‘Clean up your camp,'” and they did, she said.

She even went as far as picking up those trash bags and placing them in her own vehicle.

(credit: CBS)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says he is aware of the issues surrounding the Curtis Park camps and assures they are not being ignored.

“We must follow progressive steps and acknowledge that we have to go through certain steps to again verbally warn, provide written warning and then ultimately move in to expedite getting people into the shelter or moving from this area,” Hancock said.

CBS4’s Karen Morfitt interviews Mayor Michael Hancock. (credit: CBS)

Those steps, the Mayor says, can take time and in some cases those secondary issues can build up.

“It could seem like we are under siege in terms of the trash and the threats that might exist in terms of exposed needles in the area,” he said. “Feeling like we are not responsive is not okay. I don’t want any resident out there thinking we are not trying to address these issues. There is not a higher priority right now,” the mayor said.

Soutous says in her case she felt she had a choice: do nothing or do something.

“I want to keep my streets clean, I want to keep my neighborhood clean,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

Not all neighbors agree with Soutous’ approach and say they are putting their attention toward finding a long-term solution.

The city cleaned up the camps in Curtis Park Friday morning — that includes across from the area school.

(credit: CBS)

The city says with the formation of a new Department of Housing and Homelessness, the city will undertake development of a new comprehensive strategic plan to address homelessness, which will explore new innovations and build on Denver’s current and past successes. The plan will implement measurements to track the city’s forward progress and show the human impacts of Denver’s strategy and investments into the prevention of and solutions to homelessness.

Karen Morfitt

Comments (7)
  1. Its a shame that Denver is becoming San Francisco and no one is going to do anything to stop it.
    Dems took over this state in 2012 and its been going down hill ever since.
    Sanctuary status has helped dems win elections just like California.
    Wake up People! Before its too late!
    God help Colorado

  2. Meli Oflittleton says:

    In other words, they are going to “study” the problem but not actually DO anything.

  3. Michael Corn says:

    Over 300 people DIE on the streets of Denver each year. The people of Denver spend Millions of dollars on the homeless.What is your organization’s vision of “Doing Better”? The downtown merchants are running this campaign to keep homelessness as a crime, not to “help” the homeless.

  4. Keep voting Democrat Denver. This is only going to get worse. If you want homelessness, criminals, used drug needles and human feces littering your streets, then keep voting Democrat. A Republican will clean this up. Vote Red in 2020!!

  5. It’s really disgusting to see the reporter and anchor act as if human beings trying to have shelter, are vermin. Your disgust toward these human beings is palpable and shameful.

  6. This isn’t a homeless issue, or a housing issue, it’s a drug issue. There are ways to help people get off of the streets; however, these resources and programs require participants to be sober and clean. We have already spent millions of dollars beating around the bush. We need strong leaders to make it very clear that the use and possession of illegal drugs is not okay, will not be tolerated, and will be met with serious punishment. Or we can watch our city descend from a beacon of life into a loosely clumped ‘no-mans-land’ of hovels, with a neutered police force unable to make a difference or enforce the law, otherwise.

  7. Trudi Fleit says:

    I say Bravo! to this woman for taking a lead in this matter instead of waiting for the bureaucrats to handle it. These are OUR homes, OUR neighborhoods, OUR properties, and OUR lives we’re talking about here! The homeless have no right to encroach into our neighborhoods and turn them into ghettos. Most of the time, they choose to be homeless through their actions of drug abuse and remaining unemployed. If they truly want help, there are many many places they can go to get it. Trespassing and littering and defecating in public are NOT acceptable in a civilized society!! Homelessness should not be encouraged by our government officials by ignoring the problem or throwing up their hands in surrender. There ARE solutions if they would be willing to do the hard work of finding and implementing them. Allowing the homeless to remain homeless and addicted is not doing them or anyone else any favors. They are human beings who need to be held accountable for their actions and that means following our laws, which MUST be enforced if Denver is to remain a city worth living in. “Seattle is Dying” is where we are headed if our so-called leaders don’t do something very soon to get rid of this scourge.