DENVER (KDVR) — In July, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston declared a citywide homelessness emergency and a big goal: house a thousand people by the end of the year.
The city put a spotlight on clearing out the encampment at Eighth Avenue and Logan Street near the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion last week. The mayor announced dozens of people would be housed and the Salvation Army gave a tour of a new shelter.
On Wednesday, FOX31 learned that other homeless encampments are getting cleaned up but aren’t getting that same kind of publicity.
At a town hall meeting last week, the mayor said he was not going to approach the problem like others before him. On Wednesday, the city cleared out a homeless camp on 16th Avenue and Sherman Street, and now some said it’s just more of the same.
“This sweep was something that was not something that resulted in any kind of housing opportunity offered, hotel stay, anything like that,” V Reeves, with Housekeys Action Network, said.
The sweeping of the encampment does come almost a week after a fire and explosion there.
“People have now been scattered across to many different intersections,” Reeves said.
Housing advocates concerned with sweep policies
Housekeys Action Network Denver is a group that advocates for unhoused people.
“They had thought that the mayor had said he wasn’t going to sweep unless they had offered that,” Reeves said.
Johnston has pushed an initiative to house 1,000 unhoused people by the end of the year. Some folks feel like that was a pitch for political gain.
“People now are realizing that what the mayor has been saying has been a lot of lies,” Reeves said.
Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure was tasked with this latest sweep and gave seven-day notice. And on Tuesday of this week, the city gave notice to clean up an encampment at 50th Avenue and Dahlia Street.
The city told FOX31 the two sweeps are separate from the mayor’s House 1000 program. DOTI said it is clearing camps that present hazards to safety and public health and that relocation efforts will happen “when possible.”
“They don’t want to be pushed down to the next block with nowhere else to go and with a cop threatening arrest,” Reeves said. “That is exactly what’s going to happen.”
FOX31 saw folks not far from this former encampment at 16th and Sherman.
“They have a sense of safety (in groups),” Reeves said. “If someone has a job interview, people can watch their stuff and make sure nobody takes anything, so they have a system that they’ve worked out themselves, through having to do this so many times.”
Another problem, Reeves added, is keeping up with these folks when they do move.
“The mayor is not going to be able to set up trash services or porta-potty services to prevent buildup of trash and human waste, because he doesn’t know where they’re going,” Reeves said.
FOX31 asked the mayor to respond to his critics on these specific points but had not gotten a response as of late Wednesday night.