E.Anyone who thinks camping at highway exits, behind grocery stores, and in your favorite park when crowds of homeless people are camping is calling Mayor Mike Coffman.
Nobody? Don’t even homeless people like the idea of endless chaotic warehouses?
Of course not.
Despite the mayor’s insistent allegiance to the grumpy Trump cult and some far-right media outlets, even those without homes don’t think that tents on sidewalks across town are a good time – for everyone.
Coffman has recently become interested in the generation-long problem of homelessness. In January, he even attended a television news story pretending to be homeless for a week. Lately, Coffman has been quickly jumping on far-right radio talk shows, inspiring a Colorado Springs newspaper, and using the Twitters to comment on the homelessness crisis. Perhaps it was this tight media schedule that prevented him from speaking to The Sentinel.
However, the story he told other selected media outlets was consistent. Coffman’s impression of the problem is having homeless people where to see them and to walk over them even in very public places.
He and so many like him don’t understand that people camping under the bridge on I-225 and Parker Road are the symptom. The problem of homelessness is as big, complex and difficult as the nation’s immigration swamp. Killing Colfax with a homeless ban and little else is Coffman’s equivalent of building a wall on the Mexican border to solve the immigration problem.
After receiving his television homelessness certificate in January, he announced he had solved the riddle of the riddle. Homeless people choose to camp on the sidewalk so they can indulge their drug addiction rather than finding a job and an adult.
Bans sidewalks and public camping and provides protection for those who behave approvingly, Coffman said on Twitter. So convinced that this often failed idea was a successful solution, he drafted some laws and published them on Twitter.
In his credit, Coffman writes that homeless camping bans had a rough time in court because it turns out homelessness is not a crime. Annoying judges keep stating that people without a home can be chased out of their tents and die if they cannot sleep and sit somewhere.
Apparently, that’s a risk Coffman is willing to take.
The trick to successfully kicking people out of the medians and behind grocery stores, says Coffman, is to tell them to stay in shelters. What if the shelters are full or drug users are not allowed in? Easy. Stop using drugs and trade your addiction for a job. No doubt the city can put out a brochure or something similar to help “these people” move from heroin addiction to filling out applications.
This is the stuff eye rolls are made of for the homeless and those who have spent years, not hours, dealing with the homeless. What Coffman didn’t learn during his week at Homeless U was how unrealistic his plan really is.
Drug addiction is a bone-breaking scourge to overcome, even if you’re wealthy, well-insured, in the hands of the best in the business, with nothing to stop you from leaving “the beast” behind. Broke, homeless, unwanted, mentally ill, ravaged by meth and heroin and not even able to show or get an ID to even start a path to a better life?
You’re welcome. Share your Picayune plan with peddling fans in Colorado Springs, mayors, the adults are talking now.
The rest of the city has assembled a virtual army of staff, experts, and others who were already digging themselves deep into a seemingly unsolvable problem before the pandemic.
As it turns out, it is not impossible to make big changes that will result in huge improvements in the lives of the homeless and the entire community. It will not be easy. And it won’t be cheap. But it won’t be impossible.
Solving this problem requires honesty, science and dedication to reality. Led by a group of city officials, an Aurora group knows that a large number of the homeless are not drug addicts and do not live in tents on Havana Street. They live in cars, often without you noticing. You’re surfing on the couch. You even sleep at work. The adults in the room know the stifling housing costs are all related to the problem. They know that heroin addiction is indispensable and that those addicted to meth and heroin would do anything to not be – except give it up.
The dangerous and tragic homeless camps in the area are full of people who are mentally ill or unable to navigate a world that is exhausting even for the privileged and professional.
There are now plans in Aurora to create a variety of homeless churches. Places where they can have access to toilets, need urgent help, and even safe places to facilitate their drug addiction while they work to end it. Some of these locations could be in church parking lots with tents. Others could even be in open spaces or urban facilities. You won’t be perfect.
But they offer dignity, security, and a real chance to get out of the worst that can happen to anyone.
Programs under study by Aurora teams are based on the knowledge that if you shoo people out of their sleeping bags under a viaduct, they will move elsewhere. You go to another median, to a dark place in an alley, or even further out of sight, like the green belt behind your house.
The camping ban? That comes after programs, shelters, communities, and workable answers are in place, if any.
The problem of homelessness is one of the most difficult problems in the region. Raising them is a job for professionals, not politicians, looking for social media clicks and TV ads. Aurora has many challenges to overcome, so Coffman should find a problem he is better qualified to deal with.
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