ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Leaders from Littleton, Englewood, and Sheridan have banded together to try to figure out a solution to the homeless problem along the South Platte River. The three cities, along with Arapahoe County, have hired researchers at the University of Denver’s Burnes Center to head up a study aimed at getting to the root of the problem.
“We thought ‘We need to start getting together. We don’t know exactly what our issues are, we don’t know who the people are in our midst who are experiencing homelessness, we don’t know what their stories are. We don’t know actually how to go at helping people,'” said Englewood Mayor Linda Olson.
Earlier this summer, Englewood police evicted dozens of homeless who had set up camps on the banks of the river. The city deemed that area park space and now enforces a curfew so people can’t camp there.
Researchers from DU plan to be out in the three communities, interviewing homeless individuals and families experiencing homelessness. City leaders want to know how they can allocate resources in the future to help keep people off the streets.
“They’re our brothers, out sisters, our aunts and uncles, they’re somebody’s relative. We’ve got to figure out what to do and at the same time we have public spaces everyone has the right to use,” Olson told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
The study will cost a little over $100,000. Half of it will be paid for by Arapahoe County, the other half will be split between Englewood, Littleton, and Sheridan.
“We can do better. Clearing parks and having camping bans is just one small piece of creating open space for all to use. We can do better by the human piece of this and I think that’s what this is all about,” said Olson.