AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman introduced an ordinance on Thursday that would ban people experiencing homelessness from camping on public or private property. Coffman says he’s seen first-hand how addiction has caused a cycle of homelessness and believes the city needs a tool to get people out of encampments.
“I don’t want homeless people spread out throughout the city and that’s the reason for a ban, a camping ban, but you do have to be compliant with case law,” Coffman said on Tuesday. “I think the greater cost is the economic damage that it does to the city, that it does to the neighborhoods they’re adjacent to, the damage to the businesses in our city.”
Under the ordinance, outreach teams and law enforcement can issue a verbal or written order to move a person camping on public property to a shelter. If the person does not move, officers can issue a citation or make an arrest. Several members of Aurora City Council oppose the idea.
“He’s pursuing policy that has been a demonstrable failure in Denver, and I don’t understand why on earth we would want to replicate that failure here and basically set money on fire doing absolutely nothing,” said Council member Juan Marcano.
On Wednesday, the city of Aurora hosted an open house at Restoration Christian Fellowship to get community feedback on alternative shelter options.
More than 400 people experienced homelessness in Aurora in 2020, according to the annual Point-in-Time survey. The city currently offers about 150 emergency shelter beds. Officials are currently considering tiny homes and safe outdoor spaces to provide additional shelter.
“Building a new brick and mortar takes time, it’s expensive, so we’re looking for alternative options,” said Jessica Prosser, Aurora’s Director of Housing and Community Services.
Mayor Coffman posted the full camping ban ordinance to Facebook. It will need approval from Aurora City Council.
To learn more about alternative sheltering options in Aurora, visit engageaurora.org/Homelessness.