Denver could learn lessons from Boise's camping ban

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DENVER -- Life on the streets isn't easy and finding a place to spend the night isn't as simple as walking into a shelter for many of Denver's homeless.

"It's pretty hard. It's just an unsafe environment. Usually in shelters to get a bed, there's a certain deadline you have to meet, and usually they're full before the deadline, and my husband and I have to stay at separate shelters," a woman named Angela told FOX31.

Angela and her husband were homeless for almost three years.

Currently, the city and county of Denver is appealing a judge's ruling that the city's urban camping ban is unconstitutional and criminalizes the homeless.

As it does so, many in Denver are now looking at another city for guidance.

Boise, Idaho has found a way to overcome legal challenges to its urban camping ban by slightly modifying the law.

The city now requires that its police officers check to ensure there's shelter space available before enforcing its camping ban, helping it avoid legal challenges.

"We are more than willing to be mentors to other cities. The collaboration is key. It's really meeting people where they're at," said Jodi Peterson, executive director of Boise's Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter.

However, some argue what works in Boise may not work in Denver.

Andy McNulty represented the man who brought for the successful legal challenge to Denver's camping ban. He says Boise's approach in impractical in a city the size of Denver with hundreds more homeless, and so many more shelters for police to call and take people to.

"It's not the solution that's going to end homelessness, that's for sure. I think it's a waste of resources," McNulty said. "Even if Denver wrote that every officer has to call and see if there's a bed available, that doesn't work for single dads with a kid or couples or folks with pets."

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