Denver, CO – In the afternoon of October 21, 2019, local advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), along with other social justice and human rights groups, held a rally outside City Hall to continue to demand that the city government take action in support of the local unhoused community.
We were live during the 100th Day Action for Rights, Dignity and Housing rally.
On Denver’s municipal election inagauration day on July 15, 2019, the coalition held a rally across the street from City Hall to deliver a 100-day action plan to incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock and the city council members.
Terese Howard of DHOL introduced their proposed plan to a group of about thirty describing how the mayor and the city council candidates made promises during their campaigns about how they were going to take action on houselessness and how housing was their number one priority.
“If they are actually going to change a track record, a dismal track record, of treating homelessness like a crime and treating housing like a privilege for the rich, then that has to start changing today.” – Terese Howard
Policies suggested by the coalition include directing the public works department to install and service trash cans near every encampment, budget for and fund porta potties near every encampment, budget for and fund an expansion of the Triangle Works program, budget $60 million for 0-30% Area Median Income (AMI) housing, and repealing the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance (camping ban), which was signed into law during Mayor Hancock’s first term in 2012.
The camping ban effectively criminalizes basic acts of survival such as eating, resting, and sleeping in public or private space with anything on top or underneath a person other than their clothing. The Mile High City has already experienced its first snowfall and as temperatures continue to drop, the ability for unhoused residents to be able to protect themselves from the elements is literally life-and-death.
Neither Mayor Hancock nor the city council implemented any of the suggestions in their entirety. In his 2020 spending plan, Mayor Hancock included $30 million for projects and programs funded through the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF), and $1 million in total funding for the Denver Day Works and Colfax Works programs.
The AHF uses most of their funds to produce and preserve “a wide spectrum” of housing needs, even for families of four who make $96,120 annually. The Triangle Works program, which employs unhoused individuals to do trash services on the streets, is within the Denver Day Works program, however it is unclear how much of the $1 million will go towards that specific program.
A pilot program that the mayor announced on August 23, which was not suggested by the 100-day action plan, supplies select Denver Police officers with non-perishable food items to give to Denver residents who appear to be in immediate need. Mayor Hancock said of the program:
“Our mission as a city has been and will continue to be ensuring that everyone in Denver has access to equity and opportunity, and that we never forget those who feel left behind – especially when our city is so successful.”
Unhoused residents and their advocates say that as long as the city continues to criminalize their acts of survival, they will continue to be left behind.
“As you say One Denver, as you say We Can Do Better, show me what the fuck your Do Better is! Show me! Because if your Do Better and your Togetherness and One Denver is not in line with what we want, then you not doin’ better. You’re fuckin’ up.” – Jerry Burton, DHOL member
Unicorn Riot coverage on Denver’s housing crisis:
- Denver’s ‘Right to Survive’ Ballot Initiative Voted Down (May 9, 2019)
- “Unhealthy By Design:” CU Denver’s New Report About Camping Ban (April 13, 2019)
- Denver Paid Clean-Up Company $400,000 to Help in Houseless Sweeps (Nov. 27, 2018)
- Denver Police, City Workers Throw Away Belongings Amid Lawsuit (July 16, 2018)
- Class-Action Against Denver for Criminalizing Houselessness Moves Forward (May 11, 2018)
- Fourth Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (March 14, 2018)
- First Lawsuit Hearing for Mobile Home Park Residents Suing Park Owners (March 2, 2018)
- Denver’s First Tiny Home Village ‘Beloved Community Village’ Turns Six Months Old (January 19, 2018)
- Denver Park Rangers Take Sleeping Bag, Tent from Houseless Man in 25 Degree Weather (November 12, 2017)
- Eighty Families Offer to Purchase Mobile Home Park to Avoid Eviction (September 25, 2017)
- Denver Human Rights Activist and Community Organizer, Terese Howard, Faces Up to 30 Days in Jail (August 24, 2017)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motions Filed for Summary Judgement (August 15, 2017)
- U.S. District Court of CO Certifies One of the Largest Houseless Class-Actions in U.S. History (April 29, 2017)
- Three Convicted in Camping Ban Trial Two Weeks Ahead of Right to Rest Act Hearing (April 18, 2017)
- Three Co-Defendants Fight Denver’s Camping Ban in Court (April 4, 2017)
- Third Push for Homeless Bill of Rights in Colorado Legislature (Feb. 24, 2017)
- With Mayor’s Approval, Denver Continues Survival Gear Confiscations (Dec. 16, 2016)
- Denver to Continue Confiscating Survival Gear of Unhoused Under Encumbrance Ordinance, to Stop Under Camping Ban (Dec. 11, 2016)
- Denver Intensifies Sweeps of Unhoused Community and Confiscates Survival Gear; Parade of Rights Rally (Dec. 4, 2016)
- First Hearing in Class-Action Against Denver for Violating Human Rights (Oct. 14, 2016)
- Class-Action Lawsuit Against Denver: Motion Filed for Recusal of Judge Shaffer (Sept. 22, 2016)
- People Without Housing File Lawsuit Against the City of Denver (Aug. 27, 2016)
- Denver’s Affordable Housing Displaces Low-Income Residents (June 20, 2016)
- City of Denver Cracks Down on its Homeless Community (Dec. 20, 2015)
- Homeless Forced Out of Tents and into Snowstorm by Denver Police (Dec. 16, 2015)
- Resurrection Village: Denver Police Destroy Tiny Homes and Arrest Builders (Oct. 27, 2015)