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Denver Out Loud Files Petition on Behalf of Homeless in Colorado

April 1, 2020

Denver Out Loud – Spearhead for Homeless Rights in Colorado

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A brutal Hobson’s choice, where homeless can either sleep in overcrowded shelters in beds inches from people exhibiting classic symptoms of the disease, or out on the streets where they are often the victims of abuse and violent crime.

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From Denver Out Loud

LEGAL ACTION FILED FOR HOUSING TO BE OPENED FOR HOUSELESS IN THIS COVID-19 CRISIS

Writ of Mandamus Filed TODAY — Press Release Below

Denver, CO—Homeless advocacy groups have come together from around the State to address the nightmare confronting thousands of Colorado homeless during this pandemic crisis. A brutal Hobson’s choice, where homeless can either sleep in overcrowded shelters in beds inches from people exhibiting classic symptoms of the disease, or out on the streets where they are often the victims of abuse and violent crime.

The conditions in shelters and state mismanagement of homelessness in the time of pandemic, not only affects Coloradans suffering homelessness, but towns and cities across Colorado as the shelters serve as ideal hotspots for spread and retransmission of the virus. As of press time, at least ten homeless persons in shelters have tested positive for Covid-19. The number is almost certainly much higher as testing has been widely unavailable.

In a rare move, these groups courageously advocating for the invisible, voiceless and most vulnerable in our society are demanding, through this Extraordinary Petition, that the State fulfill its obligations with regard to public health and take steps to immediately mitigate the conditions in the shelters by providing housing to the homeless during this crisis. Cities and states around the country are stepping up to provide housing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, e.g. Santa Fe, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Connecticut. Colorado must follow and go beyond by protecting every person in this state.

The Extraordinary Petition was filed this morning, a part of it found just below:

Colorado homeless are faced with a Hobson’s choice: either sleep in overcrowded shelters in beds that are inches apart from people exhibiting classic symptoms of Covid – 19, or out on the streets where they are routinely violated and assaulted. Assuming even the most indifferent attitude toward the health and well – being of the poor and dispossessed in our state, shelters serve as ideal hot spots for the spread and
retransmission of this highly contagious virus, so that homelessness in the time of pandemic is a matter
of grave public concern.
Along with the statutory requirement that the Colorado Department of Public Health utilize its expertise to mitigate the crisis amongst the homeless, there is an Equal Protection violation lurking here in that the State has issued orders for the public good that the homeless do not have the ability to meet, while failing to provide the resources for those suffering homelessness to meet them.
Currently, there are approximately:
– 9,619 homeless in Colorado, according to the 2019 Point In Time Survey, generated by The U.S. Dep’t of Housing and Urban Dev.
– There are more than 3,900 homeless in Denver, with an estimated 5,500 in the metro area according to the aforementioned Survey.
– Denver homeless shelters have no more than 2000 beds, according to statistics compiled by The Department of Housing Stability (HOST).
– Nationally, 23 percent of the homeless population are over 50 and 84 percent have a health condition
making them particularly vulnerable to Covid
– There are approximately 13 shelters in Denver.
– There are two shelters in Boulder: Boulder Shelter for the Homeless which has a capacity of 160 beds; and Bridge House which has 72 beds, according to Plaintiffs who work in this community. There are approximately 600 homeless in Boulder, according to the above referenced Point in Time Survey, but as
a factual matter, Boulder advocates believe that the number is closer to 2,000. Homeless congregate in large groups in Boulder to sleep and eat, there are a limited amount of shared bathrooms available, and the closest bathroom to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless is one mile. Conditions in the two Boulder shelters are overcrowded, people sleeping in bunk beds with only a few feet in between each bunk,  making the shelters ideal hotspots for this highly infections disease. Homeless in the shelters eat and congregate in large groups of 50 to 75, standing in lines in close proximity to one other while waiting for their food.
– According to Plaintiff advocates, the Bridge House has made recent efforts to separate sleeping cots six feet from each other, but this shelter is operating at capacity and is forced to turn people away.

– Fort Collins, Colorado has approximately three shelters for the homeless with an estimated homeless population of 430 , according to the recent Point in Time survey by HUD. Plaintiffs who work with this community assert that half of the homeless population in Fort Collins is elderly, immuno-compromised and therefore more highly susceptible to Covid – 19. Shelter conditions in Fort Collins range from crowded to less crowded, i.e. people frequently gathering in numbers that are much larger than

current U.S. recommendations with regard to distancing with the base shelter facility in Fort Collins —
Aztlan Community Center —hosting 250 persons during the day where crowded to less crowded, i.e. people frequently gathering in numbers that are much larger than current U.S. recommendations with regard to distancing ; homeless share bathrooms, stand in line for meals, share shower facilities and common space. There are four presumptive positive Covid-19 cases in the Aztlan community
center with reports of numerous persons with respiratory symptoms indicative of Covid-19 according to Homeward Alliance agency responsible for day to day operations at the Aztlan shelter.
– There are no available homeless beds in Grand Junction, Colorado. In the one shelter in Grand Junction, people sleep on mats that are approximately two feet from each other. There are 1,500 homeless persons in Grand Junction , according to Plaintiffs who work with this community.
– Plaintiffs take pains here not to cast a negative light on the efforts of those managing the shelters in our state during this crisis but conditions are uniformly deficient throughout Colorado shelters:
  • a. Beds and mats are separated by a distance of no more than three feet and usually much less.
  • b. Bathroom are limited and shared.
  • c. Majority of shelters operating at or near capacity; and not designed for social distancing — so  that thousands have no choice but to violate governmental guidelines and orders issued since the inception of this epidemic.
  • d. Reports of man , many people in shelters showing classic symptoms of Covid-19
  • e. As of today, at least 10 homeless persons have tested positive for the virus, but due to extremely limited testing, there are certainly many more.
  • f. Reports of breathing machines being used at one of the Denver Shelters in spaces no way intended for medical care.
  • g. Bussing is required to shelters where homeless persons are forced to stand in crowded lines then ride in close quarters.
  • h. Much of the food is still served in mass congregate settings, i.e. where homeless persons are standing in line with large numbers of people and sitting at tables with hundreds of people eating food.
– Government orders and recommendations with regard to mitigating this crisis—social distancing, and washing, stay at home orders—are impossible for Colorado homeless to comply with under current crisis
conditions
3 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    April 1, 2020 5:18 pm

    The homeless situation will increase exponentially. First thing we should is confiscate all Trump properties and turn them into homeless shelters around the world!

  2. craig jones permalink
    April 2, 2020 5:32 pm

    what boulder should do is require all this massive construction being done by Amazon and google to include a third of the new units be allocated to the homeless

Trackbacks

  1. Year of the Plague – 9 – Homelessness in Colorado and the Coronavirus | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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