Denver’s newest sanctioned campsite gets pushback from neighbors

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Ericka Taylor lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. She said she and her neighbors got a flyer on their door about a new sanctioned encampment site near Eighth Avenue and Elati Street on the campus of Denver Health.

“That was it, there was no prior notice,” Taylor said.

She said some residents were given no chance to give their input on the plans.

“That’s why we’re just now getting together for the first time because we just found out on Thursday,” Taylor said, of a Saturday meeting of residents about the new campsite.

Denver Health is partnering with the Colorado Village Collaborative to create the site for people experiencing homelessness to have shelter from the elements, security, healthcare and food.

The plan is to provide these amenities for 50 people.

“They have a staff that’s there for them. They have meals that are provided to them, laundry, showers and bathrooms and trash and all the basic resources that we all need to survive,” said Cole Chandler, executive director of Colorado Village Collaborative.

Taylor, who lives near the proposed site, said “the most frustrating part for me has been the rhetoric used by Denver Health and this group (Colorado Village Collaborative) has been ‘Oh, the community, think of the greater good.'”

Taylor said her family and her neighbors deal with the issues of people illegally camping around nearby Sunken Gardens Park.

“We have to go and scan first,” Taylor said. “My husband has to take a garbage bag and a thing to pick stuff up, and we pick used needles, we pick up empty bottles, we pick up broken glass, cigarette butts.”

Litter and waste are not the only issues Taylor said her husband and daughter have dealt with.

“We walk to her daycare, and we have to cross the street and we have to avoid somebody who’s getting high. I know what the smell of meth smells like now,” Taylor said.

On one occasion, she said the problems caused a physical danger to her daughter at the park.

“She picked up what I thought was a rock, popped it in her mouth and was like, look, and I went and looked and pulled it out and it was broken glass and I see that she’s standing in a pile of broken glass,” Taylor said.

She and some of her neighbors hope their grief falls on the ears of someone who might provide some resolution to the problem near their homes.

“Just really genuinely feels hopeless,” Taylor said

The 50 people expected to be served by the new “safe outdoor space,” as it’s called, will be put through a screening process.

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