Saturday, August 15, 2020 -
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Today’s shantytown

Practically to the date last year, I wrote a column, “Homeless problem.” It could be reprinted, verbatim, as nothing has changed. I take that back; it’s gotten far worse.

Maybe it’s time for the mayor and city council to start working out of the office again. Unless they’re actually showing up to work every day, seeing what’s become of Civic Center, yet merrily continuing on their way?

Since the pandemic hit, day by day the encampments have grown. The city did nothing, allowing them to expand to the point where in one case, an entire city block, surrounding Morey Middle School in Capitol Hill, has become an encampment.

Homeless advocates protest the breakup of these camps, citing CDC evidence that it is better to keep them intact. These advocates, however, often leave off the second part of CDC advice — unless the city can move them to a safer place.

Why isn’t the city doing so?

Whether you come at it from a humanitarian, a public health, a tourism or an economic angle, no one could drive past Morey Middle and think it’s OK for human beings to live like that.

At this time last year, Hepatitis A had broken out among Denver’s homeless population. This year, it’s trench fever. Yes, literally a disease that plagued the trenches of WW I, where living conditions were horrific. What more will it take to get the city to do something? Clearly a global pandemic isn’t enough. 

Denver’s homeless problem has been developing for years — and ignored for just as long. It’s the perfect illustration of what happens when government does nothing. During this entire time, Denver experienced an economic boom. Instead of using the opportunity to find housing and job training solutions, Denver’s municipal government remained inert.

Now we’re in the midst of a global economic recession.

More people face homelessness. Yet inaction remains the name of the game. No affordable housing and housing for the homeless.

Denver is rapidly starting to resemble those black and white photos of shantytowns during the Great Depression. Mayor Hancock: Is this what you want your legacy to be?

Shana Goldberg may be reached at

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Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher |

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