Denver to clear homeless camps from city streets beginning next week

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DENVER -- In a matter of days, there will  be a major change along Denver’s city streets. There will be fewer homeless campsas the city takes matters into its own hands.

“We’re facing potentially a public health issue if we don’t act and do something,” city of Denver spokeswoman Julie Smith said.

Beginning Tuesday, Denver Public Works will enforce Sec. 49-246 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code by ordering the removal of all property on public sidewalks.

“This is really an unsanitary, unhealthy situation,” Smith said. “It’s not just for the people out here but for the neighborhood as well.”

Any property remaining will be transported to 1221 Glenarm Place and will be available for retrieval. But property not claimed within 30 days from the date of removal will be destroyed.

“This is not an easy situation,” Smith said. “We want to do everything we can to preserve any important documents or electronic devices that someone would be rightfully upset if they lost.”

The problem has hit a breaking point. In September, Denver Public Works spent three days a week cleaning and power washing the sidewalks around the Lawrence Street shelters. By January, it got to the point where it increased to a daily cleaning.

The word on the street will be passed around through fliers posted in the area as well as outreach workers offering services and shelter.

“They’re able to get one-on-one with people and really encourage them to seek that shelter and connection for a program or housing,” said Alexxa Gagner with the Denver Rescue Mission.

The safest, most sanitary place for people experiencing homelessness is indoors, and the city said to this point no Denver shelter has turned away any homeless person wanting to enter.