DENVER (CBS4) – As Denver continues cleanups, a question arises; are homeless people being displaced further by them?
“I was definitely starving, I was in the midst of eating,” Jesse Parris said.
Parris is with Denver Homeless Out Loud. He remembers when he lost everything in 2012. He says the city cleared all his possessions during a sweep, and the current cleanups don’t look that different.
“People’s things were being discarded, whole tents were being taken away. They wouldn’t allow one of our people to get their tents,” he recalled of Wednesday morning’s cleanup near 22nd Street and Champa Street.
A lawsuit filed against Denver prevents it from coming in and throwing away people’s belongings. The city offers up to 60 days storage.
Homeless Out Loud records what happens at these events. They say people are not given enough help, or time to move their possessions.
The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which overseas cleanups, posts notice of where the cleanups are planned and sends outreach workers out to assist people. But not everyone can move everything in time, so if a homeless person is present at a cleanup, they can get a ticket and their belongings are put in a bin.
“Every time we went with them their belongings were not present,” Parris contended.
The city also explained not everything can be saved. It throws away soiled materials, drug-related items, as well as mattresses and pillows.
“So the city is telling you that people stuff is not being stolen but we have documented proof that their stuff is being taken,” Parris said.
Moved or trashed, it seems clear there has yet to be a middle ground.
This November there’s a measure on the city ballot to raise taxes to address Denver’s homeless problem. Critics say it does not raise enough money for affordable housing, though voters get to weigh in on the issue.