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Denver City Council passes ‘urban camping’ ban 9-4

Outdoor camping in downtown Denver

Outdoor camping in downtown Denver

DENVER — The Denver City Council passed an outdoor camping ban Monday night by a 9-4 vote, but only after a heated debate. 

The measure targets homeless people, making it illegal to stay on public or private property overnight. Supporters say the ban will clean up the area for Denver businesses and help get services to people who need them.  But opponents say the change criminalizes homelessness. 

The ban will take effect on May 30, and when it does it could have unintended consequences for the surrounding suburbs.  With police patrolling the streets in Denver, some experts say the homeless will head to the burbs. 

“I think it’s going to create an issue that we are unprepared for,” said Linda Barringer with the Family Tree Homelessness program.  “I think the worst possibility is that people will move out into the suburban areas, but they will become more hidden.  We won’t know how to find them.” 

Many of the neighboring cities and counties have their own ordinances, but experts say suburban spaces could seem appealing. 

“Places where they aren’t seen, where they don’t come into contact with police,” Barringer said.