[Hpn] DENVER, CO - Homeless Man May Have Frozen To Death - ABC 7 TV News - December 11, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Fri, 12 Dec 2003 04:13:05 -0500

Homeless Man May Have Frozen To Death

Coalition Calls For Immediate Opening Of
City Buildings To Shelter Homeless
By Staff Writers - ABC 7 TV News - December 11, 2003

DENVER -- An unidentified homeless man died Wednesday night
in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, prompting advocates
to call on city officials to open up city-owned buildings at
night to shelter those who are left out in the cold.

The 55-year-old man was found wrapped in a blanket by a bike
patrol police officer, who tried to rouse him Thursday
morning but was unsuccessful. The temperature dipped to 5
degrees Wednesday night in Denver.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the official cause
of the man's death but officers believe that the cold was a
contributing factor.

The man's death comes at a time when the city of Denver is
debating whether to open up the lobby of its Human Services
Building at 1300 Federal Blvd. as a temporary emergency
shelter for homeless men.

SURVEY Should city buildings be opened at night to house
homeless during the winter? (384 votes at 4:00AM)

Yes. The building's not being used.   259   67%

No. I don't think it's safe.   68   18%

No. I wouldn't want to work or visit a building where
the homeless had slept the night before.   57   15%

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless issued a call
Thursday to Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver City Council
to immediately open the building or some other city-owned
facility to provide overnight shelter until a longer term
solution can be found.

"How many more homeless people must die before the city acts
to provide the most basic emergency shelter?" said John
Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the

"We are facing a crisis in Denver. It's time that everyone
does his part to provide temporary shelter until we can
create the lasting solutions we need."

Denver city officials proposed opening the human services
building as a temporary solution after a 120-bed shelter at
the First Baptist Church on Capitol Hill closed last spring
because of infrastructure problems. However, neighborhood
opposition has stalled the opening of the facility.

The neighbors are alarmed that a large group of homeless men
would be sleeping in their neighborhood.

"We wouldn't mind if it was women, families or children. But
we do have a concern about men. We had a 12-year-old
sexually assaulted by a homeless man a couple of years ago,"
said Sun Valley resident Margaret Jauregui.

Human services manager Roxane White said the department has
an obligation to help the homeless but it also needs to be
sensitive to neighbors.

"Our vision is to help those in need and to keep those who
are experiencing harm from being hurt," White said.

She said if the plan is approved, the lobby would be gated
off from the rest of the building and turned into a men's
shelter from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.

"There's no study, no documented evidence that having a
shelter in a neighborhood increases crime or creates other
problems for the neighborhood," said Parvensky.

The city said it's also trying to work out transportation
issues, so those who stay in the shelter will have a way out
of the neighborhood when it shuts down in the morning. The
City Council is expected to make a final decision on the
plan next week.

The Metropolitan Denver Homeless Initiative's latest survey
estimates there are 10,000 homeless people in the metro area
but only 875 beds are available in shelters around the city
with overflow space accommodating a maximum of 1,007,
according to The Associated Press.

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