Denver to evict homeless from makeshift camps

Denver officials say improvised campsites on downtown sidewalks and other public properties pose a health and safety risk.

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Angela Flax packs up her tent at an encampment along Division Street Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in San Francisco. Homeless people have until the end of Friday to vacate a rambling tent city along a busy San Francisco street declared a health hazard by city officials earlier this week. The mayor's office says about 40 tents remain, down from a high of 140 tents this winter. The tents have lined both sides of a street under a freeway overpass for months, drawing complaints from residents and businesses.

Officials in Denver are planning to evict people from homeless camps that have popped up around homeless shelters and in public places.

Beginning on Tuesday, the city will begin removing items like tarps and other property and take the items to a storage facility, where owners will have 30 days to reclaim them.

The city says the improvised campsites on downtown sidewalks and other public properties pose a health and safety risk.

According to the Denver Post ( ), support groups for the homeless say many people don't want to stay in shelters, even though there is enough room, because they are concerned about sanitation and having their freedom restricted by house rules.

"I know for a lot of these people, it comes down to not wanting to be confined to an enclosed area, and some are just here for the legalized marijuana and can't do that indoors," Daniel Dishman, a frequent visitor of the Lawrence Street Community Center tells the Denver Post. "More than that, the minimum wage here is too low, and the cost of living is too high. You have to be able to compromise with the homeless. If you don't want their furniture on the streets, give them somewhere else to put it."

A city fact sheet on the coming plan says the Rescue Mission's downtown and overflow shelters have been at 79 percent capacity, and no shelters have been turning people away.

San Francisco has also moved to reduce homeless camps in the streets of the California city, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

Homelessness is a systemic problem in San Francisco, where the supply of affordable housing can’t keep up with the demand. A 2015 report on homelessness in San Francisco found a total of 6,059 homeless people in the city, 58 percent of whom were unsheltered at the time of the count.

The city has recently ramped up efforts to confront the problem. The mayor of San Francisco has increased spending the homelessness issue to $242 million this year, according to The New York Times.

The city recently made headlines when it cleared homeless people out of tent cities in the busy Embarcadero shopping district prior to the Super Bowl. At that time, the city constructed new homeless shelters, including a Navigation Center intended to help solve the underlying issues of homelessness rather than merely supplying a place to stay.

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