The past year has been a traumatic period for Denver’s homeless population, in large part due to inconsistent and schizophrenic responses to their needs by the city.
On the one hand, Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration has earned praise by green-lighting the construction of 270 homes to permanently house people, introducing a new homeless work program, and overseeing the opening of the Lawrence Street Day Shelter.
At the same time, the city ramped up enforcement of the camping ban (with nearly 50 percent of all enforcement actions taking place in 2016 alone, despite the ban's having been around since 2012), engaged in large-scale sweeps with operation code names like “Night Crawler” and “River Dance,” and approved the use of donation funds (intended to help the homeless) to instead transport and store confiscated belongings.
But a group of service providers, faith organizations and homeless advocates has been quietly meeting since the March sweeps to figure out alternative ways to help the 3,700 homeless people living in Denver.
Called the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project — or ASAP — the group is a response to the city’s flip-flop, controversial policies toward homelessness.