DHOL Press Release: Motion For Summary Judgement Filed

Yesterday Attorney, Andrew McNaulty - with the office of Kilmore, Lane and Newman who recently joined Jason Flores-Williams in the class action lawsuit, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in the case. This motion was written because of the overwhelming evidence found in the discovery process that the city has had a practice and policy of violating homeless people's 4th and 14th amendment rights when seizing their property without due process and discarding the property. Denver Parks Department Superintendent testified under oath that, “City officials decided not to store any property that was seized during the Arkins Court sweep on July 13, 2016, because in the past after sweeps no one had retrieved seized items.” A Denver Park Ranger testified to handing out "thousands" of notices for seizing property, none of whom retrieved that property. Homeless class members testified that “It was very cold and snowing on December 15, 2015 when they swept us” and how "they just want me to disappear."

The Motion for Summary Judgment can be found here or attached.

The City also filed a motion for summary judgment claiming the evidence proves they did not violate anyone's rights.

We do not know when the Judge will rule on these motions. Stay tuned...

Watch the action live on unicorn riot here

 

Some Media Coverage

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/14/both-sides-will-file-summary-motions-judgment-challenging-denvers-homeless-sweeps/

https://www.cpr.org/news/story/denver-homeless-lawsuit-attorney-to-push-judge-for-pre-trial-ruling

 

Contact: 

info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

720-940-5291

 

Beloved Community Villagers Official Press Release

Photo Cred: Kevin Beaty, Denverite

Photo Cred: Kevin Beaty, Denverite

Beloved Community Village Opens and Residents Move in!

For: Immediate Release

What: Press Conference

Date: July 29 2017

Time: 3pm

Where: Beloved Community Village

3733 Walnut St.

Denver Colorado

 

The Beloved Community Village residents have begun moving in!

Press is invited to a press conference at the village on Saturday July 29th at 3pm.

The Colorado Village Collaborative and its many community partners have built Denver Colorado's first tiny home village for homeless people. Thanks to the over 400 volunteers, to Whiting-Turner, to Mennonite Disaster Services, and village residents together we built this village! This was truly a community effort - it takes a village to build a village!

Residents moved in on July 21, 2017 with joy and relief from the short wait to move in to their tiny homes. This has been a long process through changing city codes, fundraising, building the village, and building community...and this is not the end! But we are so excited to finally be moved into these homes!

This village is born in the context of massive increase in housing costs and people forced to live on the streets being criminalized for simply surviving. Tiny Home villages are an inexpensive, quick, community based, environmentally friendly model which can immediately begin to provide homes and community for those without. Beloved Community Village is not run by outsiders but rather is a self-governed community.

In the near future the CVC will partner with St Andrews Episcopal church to build its next tiny home village. The next build of tiny homes will house homeless women.

The Beloved Community Village will be hosting its volunteers, partners, neighborhood, and friends for a big thank you event later in August.

To inquire about the Beloved Community Village and the next lay out of tiny homes please contact...

 

Contact Info:

Village Phone ... 303-618-3976

Cole Chandler ... 254-744-2948

Beloved Community Village Update & Matching Grant Announcement

Dear Friends,

 Thank you to everyone who has supported the dream of a dignified, self-governed village for homeless people in Denver. Construction of the Beloved Community Village began on May 20. After almost two weeks, 11 beautiful tiny houses and a shower house have quickly taken shape with the help of over a hundred volunteers providing over 2000 hours of work. This has truly been a community driven project.

Today, we are excited to announce that the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at the University of Denver has offered a $20,000 challenge grant to help provide the final leg of funding to get Beloved Community Village up and running (Press Release: http://bit.ly/2rXxGEV).

We’re not done yet, but with your support, look at what we have accomplished so far: 

  • Received a first-of-its kind zoning permit for tiny home villages,

  • Secured all building permits,

  • Received support from multiple City Council members, including Councilwoman Robin Kneich (read the full statement here).

  • Raised $107K, thanks to the $20K grant from the Barton Institute in addition to the challenge grant,

  • Tens of thousands dollars have been donated in labor, materials & hours of support from over 100 community volunteers. 

This project is turning into reality, but we still need your support! Thanks to DU's challenge grant, every dollar donated will be doubled up to $20,000!

Click the link to donate today: http://bit.ly/2sazslP

Thank you for all your support, and please help us match our grant!

 

Our Fight for Right to Rest Just Grows Stronger as Committee Votes Against the Bill Again

STATEMENT FROM ASAP MEMBERS DENVER HOMELESS OUT LOUD:

On Wednesday April 19, 2017, the Local Government Committee of the Colorado State Legislature voted 5 to 8 against the Right to Rest Act - the right to sleep, sit, cover oneself, share food, sleep in your own vehicle.

After three years of bringing the Right to Rest Act to the Colorado State Legislature and having our rights - our humanity - voted down, our resolve, our movement, our power just grows. We know this is a long haul struggle. History has shown us that in order to succeed in overcoming discriminatory practices, communities must stand strong together and the fight takes years.

This vote against humanity came at the end of an 11 hour hearing including testimony from over 60 people supporting the Right to Rest and only 5 people who testified in opposition. Person after person supporting the right to rest testified to being threatened, having their belongings stolen and being forced by police to “move along.” Lawyers, business owners, service providers and faith leaders each spoke to the unconstitutional, dehumanizing and moral impacts of criminalizing existence. And person after person testified to how this bill does not create “special rights” for homeless people, but protects the rights of all people to stand, sit, lie down, cover oneself - exist - in public spaces.  

The Right to Rest Act, introduced through the Western Regional Advocacy Project in Colorado, California, and Oregon, aims to end all laws and practices to push certain “unwanted” communities out of public space. Our county has a long history of racist, classist laws - Jim Crow, Anti-Okie, Sundown laws - used to push certain people out of public spaces and anti-homeless ordinances are just another example.

The Right to Rest hearing on Wednesday was a powerful demonstration of a people who will not be hidden, silenced, or treated as less than human. For the third year in a row we packed the committee room with a collective energy that will not go away, but rather continues to grow. As homeless and poor people, we know what is really going on in the streets. In closing comments Representative Lebsock, who voted yes, said “today we heard reality versus reporting.” Reality from people living on the streets, and reporting from city officials reporting numbers of shelter beds, housing units being developed, and money being spent. Reality was spoken loud and clear - “we will continue to exist and survive in public spaces no matter how much you try to hide us.”

The Representatives who voted NO against the Right to Rest justified their vote by expressing concern that this bill will create a “free-for-all” with homeless people sleeping and sitting everywhere, that there will be endless lawsuits against cities, that local municipalities need local control to use “tools” to deal with their homeless population, and that they want to “solve homelessness” not create rights. They had no shame in expressing their perception of the sight of visibly homeless people as “bad for business.” They had no shame in defending businesses and cities from the potential law suits they would face - never considering that instead they could just respect people’s rights.  

Five Representatives voted YES for the Right to Rest this year. Their vote and words of support for a bill that simply asks we be allowed to sleep, sit, not have our blankets taken, are a sign of hope and humanity! We thank Reps Lebsock, Singer, Coleman, Exum, and Valdez! Furthermore, this bill would not be real without the incredible leadership and commitment of Reps Salazar and Melton sponsoring the Right to Rest three years in a row, standing strong against internal party division, and standing up for what is right!

Our work does not end. As homelessness will continue to persist with more housing budget cuts in sight, and while criminalization does absolutely nothing to actually end homelessness, we will remain right here, growing in numbers, demanding justice. We have no place left to go. We have no other choice but to fight for our rights to survive. Our solidarity with each other and strength in fight against our humanity only grows. Our fight continues right now and onward in the city councils, in the federal and local courts, back at the state capitol next year, and on the streets everyday!!  

Colorado Politics: "Homeless Still Must Move Along After Colorado 'Right to Rest' Bill is Killed Again"

(istockphoto.com/paulprescott72)

(istockphoto.com/paulprescott72)

A Democratic-led House committee killed the latest version of Colorado’s “Right to Rest” bill to outlaw urban camping bans that keep homeless people from sleeping in parks and other public spaces.

House Bill 1314 died on a 8-5 vote in the House Local Government Committee, marking the third year in a row the effort by Democratic Reps. Joe Salazar and Jovan Melton has died in its first committee.

After the vote at 11:40 p.m., people shouted obscenities at the committee, including one woman who yelled repeatedly, “Blood is on your hands!”

Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who joined Rep Matt Gray  as the Democrats who voted with Republicans against the bill, said he, too, is gravely concerned about homelessness, but “there are multiple ways to get to a common goal.”

He said the bill would open cities up to mass litigation, draining money that could be used for parks, schools and other public needs. Cities’ efforts to help homeless people would be hamstrung, Rosenthal said.

“It’d be hands off,” he said.

But the bill never really had a chance, regardless of the more than 10 hours of deliberations Wednesday. If it had survived the committee and the House floor, it would have been dead on arrival in the Republican-led Senate. Such “message” bills are about making a point, not making law against all odds.

Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins and other larger cities have restricted homeless people with urban camping bans,  panhandling and various degrees of vagrancy.

Homeless camps, they say, deprive the rest of the public of the use of parks and sidewalks while leaving a mess and frightening away customers from nearby businesses because of aggressive panhandling.

People living on the street are better served by going to shelters and other programs that could help them, they contend.

Bret Waters, the deputy chief of staff for the city of Colorado Springs, said the city isn’t “criminalizing” homeless people but instead has made major investments in ending the cycle of homelessness.

“House Bill 1314 does not help provide resources for local governments to continue our work,” he said. “Frankly, we see it as a way of taking away opportunities for us to get individuals care.”

He added, “Decisions regarding our citizens should remain local,”

Salazar said the bill wasn’t that broad.

“The issue of homelessness is so much bigger than this bill — it’s huge,” he said. “But one of the biggest barriers to getting a job is having a criminal record, and it’s one of the biggest barriers to getting employment.”

Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, tried to amend the bill to allow homeless people to camp in legislators’ offices. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said.

Committee chairman Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, ruled the amendment out of order,

Most of the testimony focused on the broader issue of homelessness rather than whether the common good is served by restricting where the homeless sleep or camp.

Colorado’s affordable housing crisis is a big contributor to the issue. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless said that for every 100 families living deep below the poverty line, there are only 25 homes.

Erin Conner, who is homeless, told the committee she can’t find anywhere to live on the $757 a month she receives from a disability check.

Shelter space for a mother and child are a nightly lottery. She couldn’t buy her son anything for Easter, because all their money goes to hotel rooms.

“I just really hope y’all say yes to this bill, because I feel like my son shouldn’t have to sleep in a stroller,” she said. “I feel like I shouldn’t worry that I can’t change my son on a park bench because I’m interfering with the public. Where am I supposed to change him when these businesses won’t let you use their bathrooms?”

Ray Lyle, who is homeless, told the House Local Government Committee he represented people “living in the dirt.”

He said homeless people are being driven farther into the recesses of society, with increased dangers and the health threats of sleep deprivation.

“For many of us, this is a fight for our life,” Lyle said.

See the full article at ColoradoPolitics.com

How Will a Proposed Tiny-Home Village for the Homeless Be Governed?

Sandra Hermans is looking forward to living in a tiny home with her pets.

Sandra Hermans is looking forward to living in a tiny home with her pets.


When Sandra Hermans was selected as one of the residents for a proposed tiny-home village at 38th and Walnut streets in RiNo, she was thrilled.The 27-year-old has been homeless since January, when she had to leave a friend's place where she’d been staying. Suddenly, Hermans found herself having to navigate Denver’s homeless shelters, and she quickly ran into a problem: Most shelters wouldn’t let her in because Hermans has three pet rats, which she adores and refuses to abandon.

“I can’t take them to shelters, because they’re not service animals,” Hermans explains. “That gives me zero options, because I can’t just leave them."

While experiencing homelessness for the first time in her life, Hermans has had to sneak the pets into various shelters. During times when she’s been caught, she’s been forced to sleep on the streets. In mid-February, her laptop was stolen while she camped out under a tree. Hermans was getting desperate.

Fortunately, she learned about a proposed tiny-home village that a coalition of homeless advocates, the Colorado Village Collaborative, has been working on for months. Sandra was one of fifty people who were interviewed by members of Denver Homeless Out Loud on February 18 for the opportunity to live in one of eleven tiny homes at 38th and Walnut streets.

Read the rest at Westword.com

Big News About Denver's Tiny Homes!


The Colorado Village Collaborative is changing the game around housing solutions in the Mile High City by launching Denver's 1st ever Tiny Home Village! The crowdfunding campaign kicked off this week, and the movement is already gaining major steam. Check out what's being said around town:

Denver Post -->  https://goo.gl/Wkmmlv 
Westword Magazine -->  https://goo.gl/5rZfdg
Denverite -->  https://goo.gl/sCZgpG


For more information about the project, or to donate click the link below!

Birdy Magazine: "House Hunting"

Art by Brooke VanDevelder. From Abandoned Houses Series.

Art by Brooke VanDevelder. From Abandoned Houses Series.

Denver’s city officials claim repeatedly that there are enough shelter beds in our city. Yet on the coldest nights, we place as many as 500 people in overflow areas not intended for this use, and bus many more outside of town to emergency shelters. If those beds are real, why don’t they exist on those nights? Even if they did, many of these houseless folks can’t enter shelters due to prior code of conduct discipline, the rampant disease and sickness present, or because couples and families get broken up, because they are transgender, or their anxiety can’t tolerate Guineamen-like tight spaces. Many are in wheelchairs, unable to get up or down from the floor with ease. Oh yeah, did I mention a good portion of these shelter “beds” are spaces for mats on the hard floor?

These homeless and houseless human beings are not in this position fora single reason, two or three, though mental illness is often a recurring theme. Problem is, most of that mental illness is developed while living on the streets without the necessary support. In many cases, it’s not the reason they are there, which is more often than not the result of a tragic life occurrence. And it’s not the fault of cannabis, regardless of what our civic leaders like to spout in the media. Domestic violence, child abuse, job loss, PTSD, family disputes, divorce, the loss of a loved one, a health moment sans insurance, incurring a physical disability, and on and on. All risks that threaten each of us every day, holding us on the edge of a similar fate pending one bad moment in time.

 

Read the rest of this op-ed by ASAP member Kayvan Khalatbari.

The Guardian: "'They're just trying to live': Denver clears homeless camp despite controversy

Robert Jessup, aged 50, has been homeless for 30 years and in Denver for five years. Photograph: Abigail Edge for the Guardian

Robert Jessup, aged 50, has been homeless for 30 years and in Denver for five years. Photograph: Abigail Edge for the Guardian

A large homeless encampment was cleared in Denver on Thursday amid temperatures of -5C (23F), risking further controversy over the city’s approach to homeless people struggling with winter weather.

As in other western cities, activists are up in arms over rules that they say criminalize homelessness. Denver, whose homeless population is estimated at 3,700, banned “urban camping” in 2012. But in November, police faced intense criticism after a video that showed them confiscating people’s blankets and other outdoors gear, with bad weather imminent, went viral.

The video of Denver police confiscating homeless people’s blankets was viewed more than half a million times on Facebook.

In response, Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, promised that police would not take survival equipment when enforcing the camping ban until the spring. The city and its officials are currently being sued by several homeless residents over such policies.

“It’s an atrocity,” said Ray Lyall, a 58-year-old homeless man and a member of advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud, said of the camping restriction.

“They’re just trying to live. But the council wants to keep moving them, and they’re going to move them out farther and farther, and then next year they’ll be back where they started and we’ll start the whole process over again.”

Read the rest at The Guardian.

ASAP Action: Call a Denver Representative

Nathan Hunt

Nathan Hunt

Denver's City Council members and the Mayor have told us they want to hear from you. The phone calls their offices receive each day help them decide what policy issues should be a priority.

We want every office to get a least six calls every day letting our elected officials know the people of Denver want the camping ban repealed.

So we've put together everything you need to get your voice heard. 

To find out who your reps are, their contact info, an example script, and tips for talking to elected officials --> Click Here

To sign up for time slots to make a weekly call --> Click Here

The New York Times: "Rights Battle Emerges in Cities Where Homelessness Can Be a Crime"

DENVER — Condos and townhouses are rising beside the weedy lots here where Randy Russell once pitched a tent and unrolled a sleeping bag, clustering with other homeless people in camps that were a small haven to him, but an illegal danger in the eyes of city officials.

Living on the streets throws a million problems your way, but finding a place to sleep tops the list. About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government, and on Nov. 28, Mr. Russell, 56, was among them. He was sitting in an encampment just north of downtown when the police and city workers arrived to clear it away. A police officer handed Mr. Russell a citation.

“Now I don’t have a place to sleep tonight,” Mr. Russell told the officer in a video. “You’re taking my home away from me.”

Growing numbers of homeless encampments have led to civic soul-searching in cities around the country, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Seattle. Should cities open up public spaces to their poorest residents, or sweep away camps that city leaders, neighbors and business groups see as islands of drugs and crime?

For those on the streets — who have lost their jobs, have suffered from drug addiction, mental illness or disabilities — crackdowns on homeless camps are seen as tantamount to punishing people for being poor.

Activists and homeless residents like Mr. Russell are waging public campaigns and court fights against local laws that ban “urban camping” — prohibitions that activists say are aimed at the homeless. The right to rest, they say, should be a new civil right for the homeless. Many wear buttons that ask, “Move Along to Where?” and are challenging misdemeanor citations and anti-camping ordinances, like Denver’s, in court.

Read the rest at NYTimes.com

Denverite: "How homeless people died in Denver in 2016"

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Every year the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless works with the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner and 25 social service agencies in the Denver metro area to account for the homeless people who have passed.

The coalition ends up with two numbers: the people the medical examiner can formally and officially determine were homeless and the people the community knows have died. By either measure, a lot more people died on the streets this year than in years past.

“These are the highest numbers that we’ve seen,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of communications and public policy for the coalition.

The coalition’s homeless death review for 2016 found that 171 people from the Denver homeless community had died. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office identified 79 homeless people who had died in the city and county of Denver between Jan. 1, 2016, and Nov. 22, 2016.

Read the rest at Denverite.com

 

These are their names.

Denverite: "A village of tiny homes for homeless people could be coming to RiNo next year"

A circHouse deployed at Sustainability Park in Denver, where it stood for three years ending in 2015. (Courtesy Edward Ryan)

A circHouse deployed at Sustainability Park in Denver, where it stood for three years ending in 2015. (Courtesy Edward Ryan)


**One caveat to this article: the "circ house community," as we're calling them, may or may not be in RiNo. One property option is in that area, but two others are not. This is still to be determined.**


An alliance of nonprofit groups is deep in talks to deploy a village of yurts on a vacant lot in River North. Nothing’s confirmed yet, but the organizers are a reputable bunch, and they say they have the tentative support of Mayor Michael Hancock and the property owners.

The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado is leading the charge as part of its communal Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project, which has recently drawn hundreds of people into public conversations about homelessness. The plan now is to temporarily deploy small, sturdy homes around the city, possibly starting with an as-yet undisclosed RiNo property owned by the Urban Land Conservancy.

The land is currently sitting vacant while ULC prepares to build permanent affordable housing. In the meantime, “they’re just empty plots of land for 6 to 12 to 18 months,” said Nathan Hunt, program director of economic justice for the Interfaith Alliance.

Read the rest at Denverite.com

Westword: "Crowd Fed Up With Denver's Approach to Homelessness Meets to Talk Alternatives"

Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall

In recent weeks, the issue of homelessness in Denver has once again taken center stage in light of dropping temperatures and a pair of viral videos that show Denver police officers taking blankets from the homeless. The videos produced a flurry of statements from the ACLU of ColoradoMayor Hancock and the Denver Police Department, all trying to contextualize those actions.

But concern over Denver’s homeless crisis has also moved beyond social-media rhetoric; it was represented in a very tangible way on Thursday, December 15, when hundreds of community members gathered at the Exdo Event Center to participate in a forum exploring alternative approaches to policing the homeless with sweeps and anti-camping ordinances.

Move Along to Where? opened on a somber note when Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Poverty and Homelessness, told the crowd that Denver was one of four cities that made the organization’s “Hall of Shame” list in 2016.

Read the rest at Westword.com

Denverite: "Albus Brooks: Getting Rid of Denver's Camping Ban Wouldn't Help Homeless"

Kevin Beaty / Denverite

Kevin Beaty / Denverite

Denver City Council President Albus Brooks made it clear from the get-go that he was the odd man out at a panel discussion on the impacts of criminalizing homelessness in Thursday night.

“I know that I am the elephant in the room because I’m a part of the camping ordinance,” Brooks said to a crowd of a couple hundred regarding his support of the city’s urban camping ban that prevents homeless people from sleeping outside with shelter.

But, Brooks later added, “repealing the camping ordinance doesn’t help us put homeless individuals in a better situation.” Boos and grumblings from the audience quickly followed.

The forum — which brought together faith leaders, business owners and advocates — came just weeks after homeless activists called for the city to suspend enforcement of the camping ban following another homeless sweep and instead provide a designated area where people could legally sleep outside.

Read the rest at Denverite.com

 

Huffington Post: "Denver Mayor Decides Police Probably Shouldn’t Confiscate Homeless’ Blankets While It’s Freezing Out"

The call came after advocacy groups threatened a lawsuit and a video of officers taking away blankets went viral.

 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) announced Saturday that local police will stop confiscating personal property while enforcing the city’s “camping ban” during the cold winter months ― allowing homeless men and women sleeping on the streets to keep their blankets and tents till the end of April.

The ordinance, which was approved by the Denver City Council in 2012, prohibits unauthorized camping on public and private property. It poses a particular threat to the city’s homeless population, who use blankets and tents during the freezing winter months to keep warm. The mayor said police will continue to enforce the ban, which can come with a hefty fine, but will cease confiscating personal property through the winter.

Read the rest HuffingtonPost.com