DENVER (KDVR) — The City and County of Denver is doing more cleanups of homeless camps around downtown. Residents of one downtown neighborhood were so fed up, they say more needs to be done.
Recently, homeless campers moved out during a cleanup, but moved right back in once the cleaning was done. Residents in the Clements Historic District came up with a unique temporary solution, but they are hoping for a more permanent fix.
Last week, Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, or DOTI, says it “posted a 7-day notice of a large-scale cleanup on Glenarm from 21st to Park Ave due to deteriorating public health and safety conditions. We were seeing the area become increasingly hazardous, in addition to encumbering the public right of way, and wanted to keep everyone safe.”
DOTI required people to move themselves and their belongings temporarily so the area could be cleaned. The department says it disposed 4,000 pounds of trash and 67 needles.
Richard White has lived in the neighborhood since 1981. He says the homeless have been causing problems for the past two months.
“They were constantly coming across the street, getting water out of hoses, defecating on front yards of properties. The trash they were leaving around their tents was also spreading into our neighborhood too,” White said.
White says neighbors worked with the City to have crews come and clean and sanitize the area. Before anyone could move back in, residents – using their own money – put up orange fencing around the parkway areas.
“We have been working on the parkways across the street for some time — vegetation, planted trees there at one time. We had areas in which we had grass grow. That area of mitigation was stopped when the homeless village came in. What we did is we had to take a security fencing, safety fencing barrier and put that up as soon as the homeless had left the area. We have found in the neighborhood, they don’t return to the area once the fencing is up. We are re-growing that area,” White said.
The City says putting up the fence is perfectly legal.
“It’s our understanding that the adjacent property owner installed the fencing material as part of an effort to revegetate the section of the public right-of-way. Given it’s maintenance work and the adjacent property owner is responsible for maintaining the tree lawn area, no permit is needed currently. They would need a permit if the activity was blocking a public sidewalk, parking lane, bike route, travel lane or driveway from the street,” said Nancy Kuhn with DOTI.
White says he and his neighbors feel bad for the homeless.
“It was very stressful to us, we had no place to help them go. We are not anti to the homeless. We talk to them even as they were packing up and leaving,” he said.
He said he would like to see the City provide more services to those who do not want to go to a shelter.
“We’d like to see a safe area provided that we can accommodate the homeless that wish to live in a tent, that wish to move to an area that is safe and we can also provide sanitation for them — food, water — that is what needs to be provided,” White said.
In a statement, the City said:
“As always, we had outreach teams on site to connect people present to necessary resources and services. The cleanup was conducted in compliance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement the City entered into as a result of the homeless class action lawsuit.”