DENVER (KDVR) — Mayor Michael Hancock delivered a message Friday to people illegally camping on the streets of Denver: workers will move in without warning and clean up sites if there is a public health emergency.
The warning comes two days after a cleanup took place across the street from the state Capitol.
Tents are gone, fences are up and there are constant patrols.
People experiencing homelessness were nowhere to be seen Friday afternoon.
During a mayoral news conference on Friday, Hancock said the city should expect more surprise sweeps like the one that took place near the Capitol without warning.
“I’m not going to mince words. It’s not OK. It’s putting everyone at risk and it’s not helping anyone when those sorts of things happen. So we are not going to publicize time, place and location,” said Hancock.
The City said it is not required to issue a removal warning when there is public health threat.
The City’s health director said there were Shigella and Hepatitis A outbreaks as well as rodent infestations in some areas of the park.
The executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment said, “Any of these encampments where there is an imminent public health risk, there is not a requirement to post notice and to move immediately.”
There are still several others encampments in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, including outside Morey Middle School.
The mayor says the City is now considering clearing out that area too.
Hancock said there is an average of 550 beds available for people experiencing homelessness.
He added that Denver is spending $100 million to help those needing a place to live.
Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher said, “Our shelters are safe. We have taken big measures here in Denver to ensure that we have proper space and have primary and mental health care screening and triage.”
Coalition for the Homeless spokesperson Cathy Alderman issued the following statement:
“Public health and safety issues can be dealt with and managed with an appropriate plan and a compassionate response. An entire encampment doesn’t have to be ‘swept’ to address those concerns. The mayor, the City, the Governor need to be thoughtful about a plan for helping our unhoused community and how to engage instead of how to exert enforcement authority. ‘Sweeps’ in the City of Denver continue to be short-sighted and dismissive to their human impact and the real solutions for homelessness.”