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Urban camping enforcement in Denver waned slightly in 2017

Author: Adam McCoy - January 9, 2018 - Updated: January 9, 2018

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(iStock image / joshuaraineyphotography)

Denver has drawn fire for its ban on homeless camping, or urban camping, since the policy first went on the city books. The city’s policy includes law enforcement sweeps that force the homeless to pack up and move elsewhere.

However, those sweeps or police contacts waned slightly in 2017, Westword found.

As Westword’s Chris Walker notes:

There were 4,647 individual “contacts” in 2017 — interactions that include, at a minimum, law enforcement telling someone violating the ban to pack their belongings and move to another location. That’s down slightly from the 5,055 contacts in 2016, though still significantly higher than the 972 made in 2013, the first full year the ban was enforced.

There were also fewer written warnings issued in 2017: 46 versus 154 in 2016. Only one written warning was issued in both 2013 and 2014.

Denver officials argue the homeless are safer off the streets and in a city shelter while opponents like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) say the ban criminalizes homelessness. Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins and other larger cities also ban urban camping and/or panhandling.

Over the spring, the latest stab at a Colorado “Right to Rest” bill, to outlaw urban camping bans, died in a legislative committee. State lawmakers argued if the bill became law, it would open cities up to mass litigation and drain money that could be used for parks, schools and other public needs.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.