AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Next month, big changes coming to Aurora will impact people experiencing homelessness. The city council has passed a camping ban.
It will force the unhoused to leave the encampments that are being set up around that city. Placards will be posted telling people in the encampments that they must leave within 72 hours.
Mayor Mike Coffman said the hope is ”to get those people into an area where they will have shelter options available for them and access to services.”
They will be forced to vacate only if there is enough supervised shelter space in the city to house them.
Those who refuse to leave during a sweep can be arrested. That’s not a good thing, said Maria Wolters, who said she’s had problems in the past finding a place to stay.
“I’m super concerned. There are a lot of people out here that out here not by choice. So I’m just wondering what are they going to do for them,” Wolters said.
Aurora camping ban raises concern among homeless, advocates
The city says it has enough shelter space and is making more. The Aurora Day Resource Center is now being transformed into a 24-hour shelter. There are others that provide service as well.
But Interfaith Alliance Colorado said camping bans are not the answer.
“We would have preferred to have seen more of a leaning into the services for the homeless population, doing things like putting more mental health services for substance abuse, and the big one is affordable housing in the community,” Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Shara Smith said.
Smith said bans just don’t work and cost millions of dollars, and they also punish people for not having a home. She described it as throwing in the towel, pointing out that a similar ban in Denver led to an increase in the homeless population.
Anthony Barlow has been living on the streets for three years.
“It seems like a better way around would be providing trash or waste management disposal or putting up a port-a-potty for people,” Barlow said.
Aurora could create new homeless shelter space
Last year, there were nearly 600 sheltered people in Aurora. On any given night, there are as many as 150 beds available here.
“There are a lot of people, unfortunately, that are in these encampments that are suffering from addictions. We are developing an alternate place for those who want to change their behaviors,” Coffman said.
In Aurora, the city manager has been directed to create even more shelter space as it’s needed. This city’s camping ban goes into effect at the end of April.