While Mayor Coffman stated that he believes the move would be progress for Aurora, those who oppose the ban say otherwise.
The ban itself has yet to go through several committees before it has a chance to bring it to the city council for consideration. Coffman hopes it will happen by the end of next month.
“I think it is very important for the city of Aurora to take this step,” he said on Thursday to 9NEWS city of Aurora, which is sure that it has sanitary conditions. But the rubbish, these unsanitary conditions in these camps that arise all over our city must stop. “
He added that this proposal has multiple goals, including accommodating the homeless in alternative accommodation and improving public health and safety.
According to the city, the point-in-time census (PIT) saw the number of homeless people in Aurora rise to over 400 in 2020.
The city also said the number of emergency shelters currently available is around 150.
“I mean, you’ll never have a 100% solution. I mean, you’ve always come up with these camps,” said Coffman. “But I think it’s important to have it in law and have a place to go.”
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Explanation of the proposed ban
Coffman posted the text of the proposed ban on several social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.
According to the text of the proposal, if approved, it would be “prohibited for any person to camp on private land without the express written consent of the owner or the owner’s representative …” and “… to camp for any person on public property, except in a location where camping has been specifically authorized by the department that has control, management and supervision of the public property. “
With regard to enforcement, the text states that an officer cannot issue a quote, make arrests, or enforce the ban unless “… city staff or a law enforcement officer have an oral or written order on a person in a camp issued to move out of the camp and take their property … “and the person ordered to move was offered shelter.
If the person refuses or does not leave the camp site, the rule can be enforced.
The text also states that “any person convicted of violating this section is subject to the criminal provisions set out in section 1-13 of the City Code”.
This Code provides for penalties such as a fine of up to $ 2,650 or a prison term of up to one year.
However, city spokesman Michael Brannen told 9NEWS that prosecutors say the $ 2,650 fine or one year imprisonment sentence is the maximum and that it is very unlikely that such a sentence would be imposed.
“The court is much more likely to use programs, resources, and mental health and drug initiatives to help individuals. A person’s inability to pay a fine if one is imposed would not result in jail,” said Burn by email.
Coffman added that the goal is not to punish people.
“The goal is to get them to a designated facility that is safe and hygienic …” he said in part.
Part of this process also includes the potential designation of an area or areas for people affected by homelessness to camp.
Additionally, the City of Aurora is currently soliciting feedback from the community on their “safe outdoor areas” to tackle homelessness.
Protection options currently on display include pallet shelters, tiny houses, and examples of secure parking lots with showers, toilet trailers, and more.
Here you can give feedback.
Pushback from some local guides
While Coffman believes the move would be progress for Aurora, those who oppose the ban say otherwise.
“The first impression is that it basically does two things. The first is that it establishes the existing guidelines that we have put in place on dismantling camps,” said Juan Marcano, a member of Aurora city council, on Thursday. “And to codify some of these guidelines, I actually find very harmful, because these guidelines have to be flexible, because the scenario around these camps and the specific situations can change. So the departments need flexibility, instead of being basically forced by law, things always to do in a very specific way. “
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Marcano added that he believes another deleterious effect of the ban is the punishment that may punish people suffering from homelessness.
“This is just a kick for people while they are at their lowest point in their lives,” he said. “… And as policymakers, we need to follow evidence and best practices rather than just having knee-jerk reactions, as you know, or frankly putting together harmful public policies that will cost the city over time and actually money do not address the root causes of the problem. “
John Parvensky, chairman of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said he believed the proposal was an attempt to implement “failed” and “flawed” policies.
“… by creating a camping ban and enforcing it against people who really have no choice but to sleep in places because they don’t have access to the quality protection they need and they don’t have access to affordable housing they have to end their homelessness. So it’s a bad policy. And unfortunately it’s not very well thought out, “he said in part.
He added that he believed that more should be invested in infrastructure and emergency shelters.
“And only if these parts are in place will the number of people sleeping on the street decrease,” he said, adding that he found the ban counterproductive. “And it doesn’t really lift the spirits and morale of the community. It really creates divisions that are very difficult to put back together. The solution to homelessness is adequate support for those who have ongoing needs, adequate shelter.”
A past problem throughout the Denver Metro
In January, it was reported that Coffman lived for a week on the streets of Denver and Aurora, posing as a homeless person in what has been criticized by some local leaders and referred to as a “publicity stunt”.
Coffman said in January that he has suspended a move towards a camping ban in Aurora until he can better understand the implications of such a ban.
When asked Thursday whether the late December experience had an impact on the development of the proposed ban, Coffman partially replied, “Well, it’s more likely to play a factor in terms of the consequences. It will be more of a factor.” what the alternative looks like in relation to – that I believe that we must certainly provide emergency shelter for all those in need. But there is an element that [someone who] suffers from a mental illness that can never feed itself. And we have to take that into account. And I certainly saw that during the week. “
Denver has seen some back-and-forth movements in the past few months to enforce a camping ordinance.
In January, the Denver Police Department resumed enforcement of the city camping ban. The ban itself faced several legal challenges.
Do camping bans work?
The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative counts the number of people affected by homelessness on the same day each January.
“We’re confident the COVID pandemic has made it worse,” said Matt Meyer, executive director of Metro Denver’s homeless initiative.
The census did not take place in 2021.
Even if it does, it’s a snapshot of one day of the year. Statistics for that one day in Denver showed there were 996 people without protection in the city in 2020 and 554 people without protection in 2019.
Denver also has a no-camping ordinance.
The Denver Police Department provided statistics from Kyle Clark to Next from June 2012 to April 2019. A total of 33 quotations on the camping ban were issued.
Compare that to Boulder, where camping is also prohibited.
In 2020, there were 118 unprotected people in Boulder, and Boulder police issued 255 camping ban violations.
In 2019 there were 53 unprotected and 541 violations.
In 2018 there were 158 unprotected and 378 violations.
A Boulder city spokeswoman said the 255 violations had decreased in 2020 “due to instructions from the official to limit close interactions with those suspected of the offense to prevent the exposure and spread of COVID-19” .
“It’s a matter of the priorities of this community. What priorities have law enforcement agencies been given,” Meyer said. “While a church may not have many citations, it cannot be assumed that it does not have an unprotected population. It may be that this unprotected population is not as visible, so the church is not so concerned about it.”
Centennial’s camping ban applies to city property. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, which conducts law enforcement for Centennial, cited two quotes in 2020 and one in 2021.
Parker has been banned from camping since 2018 and issued two warnings in 2019.
“I don’t think it’s a useful way for us to know if this actually affects the number of people who are homeless,” Meyer said. “I think it tells us if the community has an assertive stance on people who are homeless versus a service stance.”
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