The mayor of Aurora wants to fight homelessness with a camping ban

Aurora gets into a debate over a homeless camping ban – one that has plagued Denver for years – and critics say it’s a political ploy.

Driving messages: Mayor Mike Coffman plans on Thursday to press ahead with an ordinance banning unauthorized homeless camps in the state’s third largest city.

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Why it matters: Denver has tried this strategy with little success. The city passed a municipal camping ban in 2012, but the rule has since been the subject of litigation and has failed to curb homelessness or prevent tent cities from popping up on sidewalks across the city.

What you say: “People don’t like having these camps right next to their neighborhood and they have the right not to have them there,” Coffman told Axios.

  • “What we want to do is identify places to go,” he said, including sanctioned campsites.

  • The mayor declined to answer questions about how his proposed ban would compare to the Denver one and hung up the phone in the middle of the interview.

Between the lines: The Aurora local elections are due in November, races that Councilors tell Axios will be fueling Coffman’s “stunts” on homelessness.

  • “This is him trying to create a narrative to help his hand-picked candidates who will receive institutional Republican money in the upcoming election. It’s all politics and it’s low,” said councilor Juan Marcano, a Democratic socialist.

Yes but: Coffman will need the assistance of at least five Aurora Council members to pass the proposal. And several members say that the votes are not easy to secure.

The story goes on

  • Council members are also in the process of getting community feedback on solutions to homelessness policies. A conversation that they say is being ignored by Coffman, which only fuels their frustrations.

The other side: Homeless proponents argue that camping bans criminalize homelessness and disproportionately affect people of color.

  • “The Mayor has been exploring the idea that homelessness is a choice and this is his way of punishing people who he believes made that choice when they just haven’t,” said Cathy Alderman , Public Policy Director with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

The big picture: According to the latest available data, it is estimated that more than 1,500 people are homeless in the Denver metropolitan area.

What’s next: Coffman finalizes the proposal with the prosecutor and intends to roll out the measure on Thursday, he tweeted on Monday.

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