Denver Considers Limiting the Spread of Homeless Camps During Cold Weather

The Denver City Council discussed a proposal that could prevent homeless encampment clearances when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

This initiative aims to protect homeless individuals from being displaced in extreme cold.

The Denver City Council on Monday held a first reading of a proposed ordinance that would prohibit homeless encampment sweeps when temperatures go below 32 degrees:

Key Points of the Proposal

If the proposal gets approved, homeless encampment clearances would be delayed if the National Weather Service forecasts temperatures below 32 degrees for four consecutive hours on the day of the planned sweep.

Additionally, if temperatures dipped below freezing in the past 48 hours, the city would postpone the sweep.

Normally, those in encampments receive a seven-day notice before being moved. Under this proposal, if the clearance gets delayed due to cold weather, another seven-day notice would be given.

Council Perspectives

Councilmembers expressed varied opinions. Some supported the idea of not moving people in freezing weather, highlighting its humane aspect.

Others raised concerns about its practicality, fearing complications for outreach teams assisting during cold spells and potential health risks for those left outdoors.

Denver Considers Limiting the Spread of Homeless Camps During Cold Weather
Denver Considers Limiting the Spread of Homeless Camps During Cold Weather

Challenges and Concerns

While acknowledging the need to protect the homeless during severe weather, there were concerns about addressing broader issues like lack of storage, health risks, and insufficient warmth during sweeps.

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Public Response and Final Thoughts

Public comments emphasized the importance of considering a temperature threshold for encampment sweeps.

However, there were reservations about the proposal’s effectiveness in addressing the needs of homeless individuals during freezing conditions.

Councilmembers stressed the need for thorough evaluation to ensure the proposal’s effectiveness in saving lives and providing adequate support to the homeless community.

The discussion continues to explore the best ways to safeguard the vulnerable population during harsh weather.

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