New Sanctioned Camp To Be Announced ThursdayBy Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4) – “They’re not trying to house us, they’re not trying to do anything really for us. They’re just trying to move us,” said a man identifying himself as JJ. He had 40 minutes to get out of his home near the state Capitol.

He said he was on medication and had just awakened to the rousting by Denver authorities as Colorado State Patrol officers stood by. The park was cleared over a period of hours which included a confrontation with Denver School Board member Tay Anderson.

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There were homeless advocates as well as mental health people standing by. Many were urged to move to more acceptable shelter at the National Western Complex or the Coliseum and offered bus rides as well as the potential of vouchers for other housing, but there weren’t many takers.

Later in the day, up 14th Street near Morey Middle School, Janava Shinault explained the dynamics of homeless movement.

“If you’re out here in the street, you’re going to say where are you guys going and you’re going to follow that herd. Especially when you don’t have the next answer.”

There was word going around the camp the city was coming for them next.

“We don’t know where to go… What do we do for the next six months until Christmas? Can’t be outside cold again.”

Denver Homeless Out Loud performed a recent tent count and found 664 tents around the city housing approximately 1,300 people. Many slipped off quietly to other camps, with no sanctioned spot.

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Thursday, the Colorado Village Collective and other partners had planned to announce one small camp but will push this announcement back to late next week. It comes after previously suggesting the parking lot of the Coliseum, which resulted in objections from the nearby communities of Globeville and Swansea.

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The soon-to-be announced spot will be on private property, but under a myriad of regulations that make creating it a headache says Cuica Montoya, the Safe Outdoor Space Manager of the Collective.

The small 10,000 square foot space is under three different zoning regulations.

“If anybody has tried to read zoning law lately I am sure it would make your head spin,” she said.

The Colorado Village Collective are the people behind the tiny homes settlements that have helped some and they want to do more. This modest effort at a first camp would mean only 50 tents for 60 people.

But it will have amenities to maintain human decency and safety.

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“Cooling spaces, electricity for charging. We’re going to have WiFi, it’s going to be fenced in. We all need hand washing, restrooms, shower, laundry,” said Montoya. “It’s a little overwhelming how much work goes into it, but we’ve got a lot of dedicated people right now really sitting around a table right now trying to figure this out.”

The problem is that many people want a safe place for the tents and the homeless people who live in them, but not in their own neighborhoods.

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“It’s not about ‘yes I support it, but not here.’ It has to be ‘yes, I support it, but how can we make it work for this community?’” said Montoya.

Alan Gionet