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Hundreds march in support of Denver’s homeless population

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DENVER -- Denver's housing market might be booming, but some say it's happening at the expense of many residents who are being forced out of their homes and onto the streets.

The city’s homeless population is now estimated at around 15,000 people. Richard Sasser is one of them. He and his wife have been homeless for 15 years.

He said most people pass by him on the street without ever learning his story, but Monday his voice was magnified by several hundred people across the street.

“These are our citizens and they deserve respect, dignity and a place to stay,” said Jason Janz, who helped lead a march from Coors Field to the Denver Rescue Mission in support of the city’s homeless.

Close to 200 people participated, all protesting a lawsuit that has prevented a new $8.6 million day shelter from opening next to the Rescue Mission.

“This gives folks a place to shower, a place to wash their clothes, a place to give referrals out for beds for the evening,” Janz said.

Just blocks away Monday night, a similar fight was taking place.

Another group presented more than 13,000 signatures to the city council demanding the repeal of Denver's urban camping ban just two days after police raided and removed a homeless settlement  in Sustainability Park.

Ten people were arrested, although the Denver Housing Authority said they were activists who gained access to the property by pretending to be volunteers helping to move plants and soil from the park.

"They cut us off from beds. When it rains or snows, we're out in the cold. We're freezing,” said Steven Gure, a homeless man disappointed with what happened.

Denver’s urban camping ban went into effect in 2012. Supporters argue it has made the city a safer place to live.

Gure doesn’t blame the city for what’s happening. He said Denver’s real estate market has forced him and many others out of their homes.

“We went from a rent of $950 to $1,250 in a month,” he said.