[Hpn] being poor a crime

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Wed, 03 May 2000 23:03:53 -0400


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By Peter G. Chronis
            Denver Post Staff Writer=20

            May 3 - Denver police launched a crackdown Tuesday against =
the homeless to keep them from sleeping outside municipal buildings such =
as the City and County Building.=20

            Six homeless people were rousted and arrested before dawn, =
drawing outrage from homeless advocates and an apology from the mayor's =
office.=20

            Andrew Hudson, the mayor's spokesman, said the enforcement =
action was not supposed to yield arrests. The goal is to relocate the =
homeless and help them find shelter, transportation and other services.=20

            "I think it's a tragedy that the folks had to go through =
this," said John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the =
Homeless. "It's very traumatic to be woken up in the middle of the night =
and taken off to jail. It's contrary to what we had been asking for in =
terms of a rational policy toward people who are living in the streets =
and have no place to go."=20

            The city posted notices weeks ago that on Tuesday it would =
begin enforcing ordinances that forbid sleeping outside city-owned =
buildings. Those who refused to comply would be charged with =
trespassing.=20

            About 16 to 20 people have been camping out at the City and =
County Building and sleeping on steam grates.=20

            The city had promised to help the homeless before arresting =
anyone.=20

            But police arrested six people about 4 a.m. Tuesday, =
including two with outstanding warrants.=20

            "I called up John Parvensky and apologized to him," Hudson =
said. "It was an oversight. I was told that it was two younger officers =
who made the arrests. They misunderstood the memo that clearly outlined =
the city's plan, which is to provide those people who are sleeping =
outside City Hall with options and with social workers to make contact =
with them before any arrests took place."=20

            Hudson said the city is trying to discourage the homeless =
from sleeping outside the building because of sanitation, health and =
safety concerns. City workers have found used hypodermic needles and =
human feces on the grounds, and somebody apparently had used a rope and =
grappling hook to rappel down the front of the building.=20

            Mayor Wellington Webb is "very sensitive and aware of the =
plight of the homeless," Hudson said. "But we also realize that a lot of =
homeless people have mental illness and addictions, and a certain level =
of homeless people want to be out on the street."=20

            But Parvensky said homelessness in Denver is a "long-term =
problem" that's been exacerbated by skyrocketing housing costs that have =
cut into the availability of affordable housing.=20

            What the city has offered the homeless people sleeping at =
the City and County Building is "shortterm resources," Parvensky said. =
"The problem is the city has closed off the parks, the South Platte =
River and Cherry Creek, and, now, public buildings.=20

            "There's literally no place to go. They don't have housing. =
They can't get into shelters. "This is so short-sighted. It's going to =
push them into other neighborhoods. It's not a long-term solution."=20


            Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.
            This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or =
redistributed.=20


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By Peter G.=20 Chronis
Denver Post=20 Staff Writer=20

May 3 - Denver police launched a crackdown Tuesday = against the=20 homeless to keep them from sleeping outside municipal = buildings such=20 as the City and County Building.=20

Six homeless people were rousted and arrested before = dawn,=20 drawing outrage from homeless advocates and an apology from = the=20 mayor's office.=20

Andrew Hudson, the mayor's spokesman, said the = enforcement action=20 was not supposed to yield arrests. The goal is to relocate = the=20 homeless and help them find shelter, transportation and = other=20 services.=20

"I think it's a tragedy that the folks had to go = through=20 this," said John Parvensky, president of the Colorado = Coalition=20 for the Homeless. "It's very traumatic to be woken up = in the=20 middle of the night and taken off to jail. It's contrary to = what we=20 had been asking for in terms of a rational policy toward = people who=20 are living in the streets and have no place to go."=20

The city posted notices weeks ago that on Tuesday it = would begin=20 enforcing ordinances that forbid sleeping outside city-owned = buildings. Those who refused to comply would be charged with = trespassing.=20

About 16 to 20 people have been camping out at the City = and=20 County Building and sleeping on steam grates.=20

The city had promised to help the homeless before = arresting=20 anyone.=20

But police arrested six people about 4 a.m. Tuesday, = including=20 two with outstanding warrants.=20

"I called up John Parvensky and apologized to = him,"=20 Hudson said. "It was an oversight. I was told that it = was two=20 younger officers who made the arrests. They misunderstood = the memo=20 that clearly outlined the city's plan, which is to provide = those=20 people who are sleeping outside City Hall with options and = with=20 social workers to make contact with them before any arrests = took=20 place."=20

Hudson said the city is trying to discourage the homeless = from=20 sleeping outside the building because of sanitation, health = and=20 safety concerns. City workers have found used hypodermic = needles and=20 human feces on the grounds, and somebody apparently had used = a rope=20 and grappling hook to rappel down the front of the building. =

Mayor Wellington Webb is "very sensitive and aware = of the=20 plight of the homeless," Hudson said. "But we also = realize=20 that a lot of homeless people have mental illness and = addictions,=20 and a certain level of homeless people want to be out on the = street."=20

But Parvensky said homelessness in Denver is a = "long-term=20 problem" that's been exacerbated by skyrocketing = housing costs=20 that have cut into the availability of affordable housing.=20

What the city has offered the homeless people sleeping at = the=20 City and County Building is "shortterm resources," = Parvensky said. "The problem is the city has closed off = the=20 parks, the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, and, now, = public=20 buildings.=20

"There's literally no place to go. They don't have = housing.=20 They can't get into shelters. "This is so = short-sighted. It's=20 going to push them into other neighborhoods. It's not a = long-term=20 solution."=20

Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights=20 reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast,=20 rewritten or redistributed.
=20


Return to=20 top

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