Hiding the Homeless Redux – Who’s Kidding Who?

A curious piece from Colorado Independent on the city’s winky-wink hyperbole with regard to assuring us all that Denver’s homeless will be treated pretty much no differently than they are today when the Democrats come to town in August.

The scene on the left was captured in 2005 when David and I hiked downtown early one Sunday morning. The scene across the street from the Fourteenth Street Entrance to the Colorado Convention Center. And, yes, there was a convention going on at the time and conventioneers were forced to navigate their way over/around the street residents otherwise know as the “homeless.”

Prior posts with regard to this issue are here and here.

Now to the Colorado Independent piece entitled “Denver won’t hide homeless for DNC.”

I guess my first thought here is what planet do the good folks who run the Denver’s Road Home program live on? Indeed–quoting from the Independent piece–“‘Denver’s homeless have no need to worry,’ say Bachar and Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager for Denver’s Road Home. ‘Nobody [the homeless] will be moved anywhere…'”

Um, may we be a little skeptical about the assurances from the Denver’s Road Home honchos? May we suspect that the same kind of secrecy from the city with regard to security measures to be enforced during the DNC is being applied to the very real specter of the homeless doing what they do during the DNC as captured in the above picture?

The piece in the Independent provides the following: “Denver’s approach to the convention has come under fire from at least one advocate for the homeless. Randle Loeb, vice president of the board of Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and former homeless person himself. Loeb says that the city’s plans to involve the homeless amount to sugarcoating the intractable issue.

“I am devastated,” Loeb continued, “by our lack of planning and action to deal with these innumerable, very difficult, hard-core people with long histories of substance abuse and personal problems and God knows what else. It is going to have an impact on the convention no matter what.”

Okay. Well said. And, what is it the Denver Road Home folks plan to do with the homeless during the convention? Well, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is going to sponsor a voter registration drive for the homeless during the convention as well as provide big-screen TVs so the homeless can watch the convention coverage.

Yeah, that’ll solve the issue. I’m sure the homeless will flock to the big-screen TVs and savor the opportunity to register to vote. Surely nothing would enrich a homeless person’s life more.

One final observation. Commander Dilley of the Denver Police Department warns in the Independent piece that, during the convention she is more concerned with “…protesters taking advantage of homeless people by hiring them to show up at rallies.” WTF moment here. It gets better. Dilley also warns that during the convention, “We want to make sure that the homeless are making appropriate decisions.”

Ah, the rub is in that word “appropriate.” Climb in a big tent, register to vote and watch the convention on a big-screen TV? If that’s what Dilley believes to be an “appropriate decision” for a homeless person, then I can only suggest Commander Dilley and more than a few Denver police officers will be very, very busy enforcing their notion of “appropriateness” amongst the homeless of Denver during the convention.

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5 Responses to Hiding the Homeless Redux – Who’s Kidding Who?

  1. Ash says:

    You should think about interviewing some people who are homeless. I wonder how they feel about the plans the city has for them during the DNC. Seriously. Are they disturbed that there will be “appropriate”/mandatory events they will have to attend, or are they psyched about the opportunity to get off the streets and out of the shelters for a week? I’d be interested to know, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people who’ve lived on the streets for years and years, voluntarily leave Denver to avoid the convention. I wonder if the city is handing out more bus passes…

  2. JimInDenver says:

    Sadly (speaking as somebody who was once on the streets of Denver) since, I believe around Dec 2005, there is a law in Denver that makes “sitting or lying” in (roughly) the downtown area during most of the day illegal. So, unfortunately, the cops have the legal ammunition to prevent our good Democratic Convention delegates from seeing what is in your picture. In addition to being sickened by this situation, I find it ironic in that the Democrats *used* to claim to be champions of the down-trodden.

  3. A statement from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless that clarifies the situation in Denver is available at:

  4. georgeindenver says:

    In response to the “Denver’s Road Home,” comment above and following up on the comment from JimInDenver, the lofty goals of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless are certainly laudable. These are good people who will be known by their acts.

    Reality, however, would tend to suggest that not all homeless folks will toe the Coalition’s line during the DNC. And, in response, Denver’s newest addition to Article IV of the Denver Revised Municipal Code (circa 2005) will, with no doubt whatsoever, be applied to the homeless as well as other citizens who don’t–as my post reads–“…make appropriate decisions…” during the DNC. The quote comes from Commander Dilley of the Denver Police Deparment whose area of responsibility includes the core city where most of the DNC activities will ensue.

    So, happy reading:


    *Cross references: Disturbance of the peace in parks, § 39-7.5; streets, sidewalks and other public ways, Ch. 49.
    State law references: Offenses against public peace, order and decency, C.R.S. 1973, 18-9-101 et seq.



    Sec. 38-86. Obstruction of streets or other public passageways.
    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly:
    (a) Obstruct a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, whether the obstruction arises from the person’s acts alone or from the person’s acts and the acts of others; or
    (b) Disobey a reasonable request or order to move issued by an individual the person knows, or reasonably should know, to be a peace officer, a firefighter, or a person with authority to control the use of the premises, to prevent obstruction of a highway or passageway or to maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire, riot, or other hazard.
    (2) For purposes of this section, “obstruct” means to render impassable or to render passage unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.
    (3) It is an affirmative defense to charges brought under this section that the obstruction was authorized by a permit issued pursuant to this Code, or the Denver Building Code.
    (Code 1950, §§ 802.17, 841.1-2(6); Ord. No. 434-05, § 1, 6-20-05)

    Sec. 38-86.1. Sitting or lying down in the public right-of-way.
    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly sit or lie down in the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District upon the surface of any public right-of-way or upon any bedding, chair, stool, or any other object placed upon the surface of the public right-of-way between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
    (b) For purposes of this section:
    (1) “Downtown Denver Business Improvement District” shall mean that area of the city bounded by and including the following streets: starting at a point at the intersection of Grant Street and 20th Avenue, extending west along 20th Avenue to its intersection with 20th Street extending northwest along 20th Street to its intersection with Wewatta Street (or Wewatta Street extended), extending southwest along Wewatta Street (or Wewatta Street extended) to its intersection with Speer Boulevard, extending generally southeast along Speer Boulevard to its intersection with 12th Street, extending southeast along 12th street to its intersection with Colfax Avenue, extending generally east along Colfax Avenue to its intersection with the alley between Sherman and Grant streets, extending north along the alley between Sherman and Grant Streets to its intersection with 16th Avenue, extending east along 16h Avenue to its intersection with Grant Street, and extending north along Grant Street to the point of beginning.
    (2) “Designated human service outreach worker” shall mean any person designated in writing by the manager of the Denver Department of Human Services to assist law enforcement officers as provided in subsection (4), regardless of whether the person is an employee of the department of human services.
    (3) “Public right-of-way” shall mean any street, sidewalk, alley, parkway, curb, median, traffic island, the public transit way of the 16th Street Mall, or any other publicly owned property used for pedestrian and vehicular travel.
    (d) It is an affirmative defense to charges brought under this section that a person:
    (1) Sits or lies down upon the public right-of-way due to a medical emergency.
    (2) As a result of a disability, utilizes a wheel chair, walker or other similar device to move about the public right-of-way.
    (3) Is operating or patronizing a commercial establishment located in the public right-of-way pursuant to any permit or license issued by the city.
    (4) Is attending a parade, festival, performance, rally, demonstration, meeting, or similar event conducted in the public right-of-way pursuant to any permit or license issued by the city.
    (5) Sits upon a chair or bench furnished by the city, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, or any other public agency in the public right-of-way.
    (6) Sits upon a public sidewalk at a transit stop while waiting for public transportation; provided, however, that this exception shall not apply to any transit stop on the 16th Street Mall.
    (e) No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation, make an arrest or otherwise enforce this section against any person unless:
    (1) The officer orally requests or orders the person to refrain from the alleged violation of this section and, if the person fails to comply after receiving the oral request or order, the officer tenders a written request or order to the person warning that if the person fails to comply the person may be cited or arrested for a violation of this section; and
    (2) The officer attempts to ascertain whether the person is in need of medical or human services assistance, including but not limited to mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or homeless services assistance. If the officer determines that the person may be in need of medical or human services assistance, the officer shall make reasonable efforts to contact and obtain the assistance of a designated human service outreach worker, who in turn shall assess the needs of the person and, if warranted, direct the person to an appropriate provider of medical or human services assistance in lieu of the person being cited or arrested for a violation of this section. If the officer is unable to obtain the assistance of a human services outreach worker, if the human services outreach worker determines that the person is not in need of medical or human services assistance, or if the person refuses to cooperate with the direction of the human services outreach worker, the officer may proceed to cite or arrest the person for a violation of this section so long as the warnings required by paragraph (a) have been previously given.
    (Ord. No. 902-05, § 1, 12-5-05)

  5. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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