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July 4th in Denver, a Stone’s Throw from the Ritz Carlton – Water Fountains Shut Off, Public Restrooms Closed – Homeless Cannot Even Get A Drink of Water –

July 7, 2022

The Halcyon House, downtown Demver; one of the city’s few subsidized housing projects…a regular United Nations of people

1.

This from a social media friend, Bridget Walsh, who lives in Denver but whom I have never met; She keeps me updated on the lowlife types who run our city, none more lowlife than Scott Gilmore of Denver Parks and Recreation…

In a recent post, this morning, she commented on how Scott Gilmore of Denver Parks and Recreation, doesn’t believe in public restrooms ( “attracts too many homeless people”). Walsh goes on to comment how “homeless people in Denver are denied clean water during even the hottest months and now can’t even find a working drinking fountain”, adding a “ps”, “The drinking fountain , like the “public” rest room” in City Park Pavilion, is usually locked up. The Denver Auditor said that Denver Parks are not well managed or cared for even though we have given them multi millions for that purpose. Where did the money go? Ask the Gilmore’s?

Walsh’s comments were followed by an article from a local news source, the Denverite, the title of which is “You’re thirsty and want a drink. But are any Denver water fountains working?” … which brought a recent little episode to mind.

2.

It’s July 4; we’re finishing up a fine afternoon with family in the back yard, lunch under our spreading apricot tree. The phone rings, it’s our friend “Y”. “I want to wish you a happy July 4 before I kill myself”, he related. “Thanks for the greetings “Y”; hold up on the last part.” Nancy and I look at one another, drop whatever, decide to visit Y and try to bring a bit of calm into his troubled life.

We head to his subsidized apartment downtown and, in a way, enter another world.

Getting out of our car on the corner of 20th and Arapahoe a few steps from what, for us, is a famous landmark – the 20th Street Gym – and a stone’s throw from the Ritz Carlton – a man walking by approaches. From his appearance – not difficult to discern – he appears homeless. “Do you have any water? I’m thirsty and the water fountains downtown have been turned off?” Nancy and I look at each otherr. What? The water fountains turned off? You’ve got to be kidding!” How heartless can Denver’s Hancock Administration be, we wondered out loud?

Turns out we do carry a jar of water in our truck. We gave it to him along with a small contribution and watched as he took the container and drank from the bottle. He turned the corner and then we went off on our way.

After trying to visit our friend (no success there), we took a short walk downtown. Having recently had knee replacement surgery, I can’t walk very far, but wanted to at least get a bit of exercise. After a few blocks we stopped at an urban park 18th and Arapahoe and sat down on a bench. On the benches on both sides of us – what appeared to be more homeless people: to our right, a scantily attired man, asleep sitting up; to our left, another, sitting with could have been and probably was, his life property in a shopping cart. Not far away others in similar situations, relaxing in public space. Were they homeless too? We didn’t know, but they didn’t look rich. After a few minutes, the man with the shopping cart approached us. Could we spare a quarter? The drinking fountains are turned off, he too related, and he was thirsty. He wanted to buy a drink and didn’t have enough money. “I don’t drink alcohol nor do drugs” he commented, although we never asked him if he did (and frankly, didn’t care if he did). Again, we reached for our wallets and were rewarded for our generosity with a “God Bless”, a compliment that makes me grince each time I hear it, although given in a good spirit. Off he walked to a nearby 7-11 to buy orange juice.

3.

It is three days later. We still have not heard from our friend Y. He didn’t answer our knock on his door when we stopped by on the 4th. Our friend had been homeless too and, as he related, lived on the streets of Denver for two years until he was eligible for public subsidized housing. He is a talented, resourceful person but one tortured by a work accident (where he broke his back) the physical pain of which is always with him … and a personal history…walking from El Salvador to the U.S. border in Texas, at the age of ten.. We are worried about him.. We left him some friend chicken and a container of spaghetti source with his next door neighbor, a Kenyan, who had spent twelve years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, a solid, grounded person.

July 4, in downtown Denver, a stone throw from the Ritz Carlton.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Natalia Spiegel permalink
    July 7, 2022 9:08 am

    In NYC and possibly nationwide the infamous Starbucks has announced that for “safety reasons” they are closing their restrooms to the general public, also citing “dangerous homeless people.” As a NYCer for over a decade (actually going back to 1973) and formerly homeless Starbucks was always the last refuge for people who had to really really go. Alas no more. Our local mass transit system, the MTA has also permanently shuttered all restrooms in subway stations. Like Mick said “what can a poor boy do”?

  2. Phil Jones permalink
    July 7, 2022 11:14 am

    Look on the bright side of your July 4 afternoon, Robbie. Some idiot with an AR-15 didn’t shoot you or the homeless people around you. The most basic function of government is to protect the people, and that sure ain’t being done in the US I would say the second most basic function is supplying the people with water, and that also seems to be missing in Denver.

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