Series of angry, threatening calls to Denver homeless shelters highlight bigger issue

DENVER -- A downtown Denver homeless shelter has received a series of threatening phone calls just one week before residents vote on a controversial measure on homeless policies in the city and county of Denver.

In a 24-hour period, there were multiple calls to Tom Leuhrs' line at the St. Francis Center, a homeless shelter. He says the calls were from angry residents and business owners complaining about the homeless leaving trash on their properties and rummaging through private property.

“With the tone of threatening," Leuhrs said.

According to Leuhrs, one caller said, “You know, I have to protect my property, so if anybody gets on my property again, I’m going to find my gun."

That message startled Leuhrs. It startled Brad Meuli at the Denver Rescue Mission too.

“It’s concerning," Meuli said.

The Denver Rescue Mission got a negative call on Monday too, but nothing like the one over at St. Francis.

“People that are homeless are all our people. They’re not just Denver Rescue Mission people, they’re not just St. Francis people, they’re everybody’s people. And what we need to do is continue our efforts to make sure that we take care of people who are out there experiencing homelessness," said Meuli.

Both leaders say the incident brings up the bigger issue of homelessness in the city of Denver.

“There are still many people out on the streets and I think more people than we’ve had ever... in the past 30 years," Leuhrs said.

It all comes at a time when Denver voters will soon decide on homeless policy listed as initiative 300. It asks people if residents in Denver should be able to rest and camp in public places. People can vote yes or no.

“300 is not the way to go," Leuhrs said.

“We don’t think that’s a solution," Meuli said.

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