DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver dispersed the encampment that surrounded Morey Middle School for months. Denver police officers blocked off the area Wednesday morning for crews to remove the tents and clean the sidewalks.
Mental health workers, outreach workers and homeless service providers were at the encampment offering support two days earlier.
“The city has been conducting extensive outreach for the last two weeks. People have been notified there was going to be some action taken,” said Danica Lee, Director of the Inspections Division for DDPHE. “No notice is required for a health department action.”
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment says among homeless camps already in place, there’s outbreaks of Hepatitis A and a bacterial infection that causes severe digestive issues, known as shigellosis.
The city assessed the area near Morey Middle School Tuesday. What health officials found led them to call for a sweep the next day.
“We have observed a lot of accumulated waste. A lot of insects, human waste, improperly discarded syringes and just unhealthy condition for people who live in the area and pass through these spaces,” said Lee.
Protesters came during the sweep to support people being moved from the encampment. They spent hours trying to convince Denver Police to let them past the yellow tape, where dozens of people were scrambling to pack their things.
“One of the misconceptions is that we want to be confrontational. Let us go in there and help these unhoused people move their belongings. One person can’t move an entire tent by themselves,” said Tay Anderson, Denver School Board Director.
Neighbors who live near the encampment have been vocal about their disappointment with the city’s lack of urgency in cleaning the area. Many stood outside and watched crews remove the tents from their neighborhood.
“Thank God. It wasn’t safe to walk around here. I was critical of Mayor Hancock, but now he’s stepping up and I need to give him props,” said James Foy, a resident near the encampment.
The city offered people in the encampment transportation to shelters and a free place to store their belongings, but only one person took advantage of those same services offered Monday.
Homeless camps are now growing elsewhere in Denver. More than a dozen tents are located at the corner of 29th Street and Arkins Court.
CBS4 has reached out to officials about Denver’s long-term plan for the encampments.