NEWS

Denver encampment sweep stopped after mayor visits site


DENVER (KDVR) — There was a change in plans on Tuesday that stopped a Denver encampment from being swept, even though warnings had been posted saying that would happen.

The encampment at 48th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard had been given notice a week earlier that the campers would be forced to leave the area. The sidewalks would be cleared because of public health and safety hazards, the city said.

But that did not happen after all.

“We’re going to address the issues with this encampment in a different way: by providing a portable toilet and trash services as well as additional outreach and service connections,” a spokesperson for the city’s Homelessness Resolution Operations Center said.

Mayor visits Denver encampment

The change came after District 8 City Council Member Shontel Lewis said she asked Mayor Mike Johnston to stop the sweep and visit the site instead.

“When he met with those individuals, he said we’re not going to sweep,” Lewis said.

The change in plans for this encampment comes at a time when the mayor continues trying to house 1,000 homeless people by the end of the year.

Lewis said the people at 48th and Colorado deserve services offered under the mayor’s initiative, known as House1000, rather than relocating them without a place to go.

“Until we can get them into long-term housing, I think we have commitments to make sure they have access to toilets, that they have access to drinking water and that they have access to trash service,” Lewis said.

A homeless encampment near 48th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Denver on Oct. 4, 2023. A seven-day notice of a cleanup was posted a day prior. (KDVR)

Advocates: No sweeps ‘unless absolutely necessary’

A group advocating for the homeless, Housekeys Action Network Denver, said the encampment never should have been threatened with a sweep.

“We believe that this is in line with what his (the mayor’s) initial campaign promises were: to not sweep unless absolutely necessary. To see him actually fulfill it is positive, absolutely, but we want to make sure that’s the case moving forward,” said V Reeves, an organizer with the advocacy group.

The city said it’s working with many groups on solutions.

“We know there will be many opportunities to learn and improve. We continue to work with council, stakeholders, community and businesses to provide the best solutions and help those who need it most,” a spokesperson for the Homelessness Resolution Operations Center said.

At 48th and Colorado on Tuesday, FOX31 saw on portable toilet for the estimated 70 people that stay here. It’s not clear if more will be on the way.

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