Is Denver Repeating the Past By Sweeping this Indigenous Camp?
Since 2012 when the City of Denver enacted the Urban Camping Ban, the forced removal of people from tents and other temporary shelters — commonly known as “sweeps” — have become the norm. Even as houseless neighbors and advocates protest these displacements, the Hancock administration continues to conduct them. But one recent sweep of an encampment outside the Four Winds American Indian Council in Baker challenged the status quo in a different way. Today on the show, City Cast Denver host Bree Davies talks with Four Winds American Indian Council chair Mateo Parsons about why this sweep is different and where things stand with this part of the indigenous community and the city.
To hear from one of the residents of the encampment outside Four Winds, here’s a link to a video of a man talking about a confrontation he had with DPD at the camp: https://www.facebook.com/fourwindsamericanindiancouncil/videos/?ref=page_internal
Here’s the full response we got from the mayor’s office:
General about the cleanup:
We remain focused on connecting those living in any unsanctioned encampment with services, shelter and housing that will help them exit homelessness as quickly as possible. Unsanctioned encampments pose a health and safety risk to those living in them and those living around them. The Mayor has been clear that they cannot persist when better alternatives remain available.
About the meeting with Four Winds folks:
Mayor Hancock and city staff meet with representatives from the Four Winds American Indian Council and the encampment that was located outside their building. The meeting was productive and alternative options were discussed for those who were in the encampment, including housing, shelter and access to safe outdoor spaces. As well, several of the individuals in the encampment were connected with housing already through outreach efforts prior to the encampment cleanup.
For further context on those who were connected to real solutions as opposed to the accusations of those who want them to stay in these conditions: there were five people from that encampment who were placed in Safe Outdoor Spaces and 10 who were provided two-week motel vouchers to help them connect with longer term services and resources. The week before the actual cleanup, the Homeless Outreach Team contacted a woman living in the encampment outside Four Winds who had three small children (including a toddler) living in the tent with her. Nobody at Four Winds or within the camp had offered her assistance or bothered to provide resources for the children. DPD was able to get her and her children out of the encampment and connected with supportive resources.
And here’s the full response we got from the Department of Housing Stability (HOST):
Prior to all encampment cleanups, street outreach teams are deployed on multiple dates leading up to the cleanup to connect individuals with resources, services, shelter and housing. Outreach prior to the Four Winds cleanup resulted in the following:
- One family (mother plus three children) placed into family shelter and connected with services
- Five individuals placed into Safe Outdoor Space managed campsites
- 10 individuals placed, via motel vouchers, into motels for 14 days with follow-up visits provided by street outreach teams
- One person referred for permanent supportive housing with another successfully rehoused
- Three individuals completed case management steps necessary in order to be prioritized for future housing referral
- In addition, individuals were provided with food, vaccinations, and medical/behavioral care
HOST continues to work with individuals who were residing in this encampment.
HOST has partnered with several Native American-led organizations, as well as with the Colorado Village Collaborative, on visioning efforts related to future Safe Outdoor Space sites.
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