Maybe I lived in Europe for too long, but I no longer see a problem with making homelessness illegal.
I’m curious: Were any members of City Council, or the Mayor, in their offices on December 24 or December 25? Did they look out their window? Civic Center Park was post-apocalyptic. To call it a tent city seems like an understatement.
Two days later, on December 27, the city’s camping ban was ruled unconstitutional. Again, I’m curious: Has Johnny C. Barajas, the ruling judge, been downtown recently?
I am not saying the camping ban is a solution. At best it’s remedial. But here’s what I don’t get about Denver’s homelessness problem. If there is any issue that should have cross-party support, this should be it. Whether one is motivated by humanitarianism, public health or commerce, the vast majority of people do not think it is a good thing for people to live rough. So why can’t we solve this thing?
Denver’s economy is booming. The funds should be there for subsidized housing, subsidized mental health care and job training. Instead, we have the Denver Public Library turning into a day shelter.
The only group of people who seem to think homelessness is a good thing is Denver Homeless Out Loud, who, following Barajas’ ruling, said: “Human beings cannot be forced into shelters like jail.” Why not? Is it not, first and foremost, government’s task to ensure that citizens’ necessities are met? Last I heard, housing is considered a need, not a want. Shelter should not be perceived as jail.
I cannot fathom how a City Council that works in the heart of this city’s growing homelessness problem remains immobile, not acting to ameliorate it. What’s going on in Denver is inhumane.
Or is this truly a case of there are none so blind as those who will not see?
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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