We have said and more often been told that if places in Southwest Colorado want to pursue solutions to homelessness, rather than try and fail to reinvent the wheel, we should look to cities with more experience with this sort of thing.
Let us take Denver as an example, which held municipal elections earlier this month. Voters also were asked whether they wanted to overturn an ordinance adopted by Denver City Council in 2012 that made it illegal “to reside or dwell temporarily in a place, with shelter.”
“Even a blanket is deemed ‘shelter’ under the ban, which covers such activities as eating, sleeping or storing personal possessions in public,” the news site Denverite reported.
The ballot proposition, Initiative 300, also would have overturned a Denver ordinance barring people from sitting or lying downtown.
The voters crushed it, voting by almost 85% to keep the bans.
Proponents said they were outspent.
An unnamed woman who voted NO told Denverite, “‘I think that we can do better than having people live on the streets,” adding she feared Denver could end up like San Francisco or her home town of Los Angeles.
“I have stepped on vomit on the sidewalks in San Francisco,” she said.
The Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called for a YES vote, saying “human beings shouldn’t lose their human rights just because they’ve lost their home.”
We think that is a compelling argument – but if we look to Denver for lessons, we are a long way from communities believing there are lenient solutions.