DENVER (CBS4) — The Auraria Campus Police Department says there appears to have been an increase in the homeless community this semester. Students on campus told CBS4 they’ve seen more people seeking shelter in the library and student union, public places on campus.
Despite this increase in the homeless population, many students say they aren’t bothered by them.READ MORE: VIDEO: Contractor Destroys Renovated Bathroom With Sledgehammer, Claims Nonpayment For Work
“We usually have to ask them to leave, but they’re usually cooperative. When it’s cold outside I wish we could let them stay, but I understand why we can’t have them in our facilities,” said Ally Melick, MSU student and campus employee.
Campus police says most of the student calls they’ve responded to regarding the homeless population this year are out of compassion, not complaint.
“Sometimes it’s welfare checks for people who appear to be sleeping or injured, sometimes it trespassing calls, or medical calls,” said Chief Michael Phibbs of Auraria Campus Police Department. He says new students who aren’t used to living in the city are often overwhelmed by the number of people experiencing homelessness downtown.
Students say they frequently see homeless people on campus laying in the alleys, but Phibbs attributes some of this to a free daily lunch service provided by a church on campus.READ MORE: 1 Dead, 1 Hurt In Disturbance, Fire At Home On Mount Vernon Road
He showed CBS4 security video of people filling the church alley as early as 10 a.m. to guarantee their meal.
“The homeless community will gather in that alley and save their places in line,” Phibbs explained. “They’ll eat out here in the sun and sit along the wall.”
Phibbs says the majority leave when lunch is over. He acknowledged that there is a health concern with having the homeless community on campus, but says they still deserve to be treated like human beings.
“We give them rides to shelters. We’ve given them blankets. We offer all kinds of resources. We don’t want anyone freezing to death on campus. We try to be as compassionate as we can,” said Phibbs, who believes jail isn’t a solution to the rehabilitation of homelessness.MORE NEWS: 'Devious Lick' Challenge: Vandalism, Theft Of Toilets, Equipment Costing Colorado Schools
The department patrols for those who overstay their welcome, but if they’re not causing a disturbance, officers will show compassion and offer solutions if they can.