Homeless camps come back to Denver after sweep

DENVER -- Earlier this year, Denver police and Denver Public Works physically removed homeless squatters and their belongings from their temporary home on sidewalks and street corners.

It was an emotional time.

"Certainly overall it was tough.  I mean it wasn't something that anybody wanted to do," said Alexxa Gagner, Denver Rescue Mission director of public relations.

After the March sweep, outdoor campers and squatters virtually disappeared.

"It did make the streets a lot cleaner and the sidewalks a lot cleaner and safer. And that was the main point," Gagner said.

But those displaced people had to go somewhere.

"You know, we don't know exactly.  I think people spread out to different areas.  You can't exactly pinpoint it," Gagner said.

Seven months after the sweep, it's as if nothing ever happened.  The squatters and campers are back in numbers that has the city of Denver perplexed.

Denver's outreach teams are puzzled why people aren't using available shelters and services.

The city said even with increased outreach, people are still sleeping outside and refusing services.  The city said it cannot continue.

The colder temperatures of winter will surely coax some folks indoors.  But the rest, and there are a lot of them, continue to provide a perplexing problem for the city.