Remember the new homeless (urban camping) ordinance that was passed last year?
A controversial ordinance to ban "unauthorized" camping in the city of Denver--a measure that specifically targets homeless people sleeping on the streets and one that critics say simply criminalizes homelessness--was approved by the Denver City Council by a 9-4 vote Monday night.And remember Chief White's statements then?
Police Chief Robert White has promised that the police will be more relaxed than the ordinance allows. If the 'camper' hasn't broken any other law and shelter space were filled up or unavailable, "we aren't going to make an arrest," White said to The Denver Post.Not So
Every once in a while I run into a street person that I've gotten to know. I've learned that they will give me their honest report about what's actually going down in their world. Today's report is from "Jack":
He just got out of jail on a 60-day sentence for "trespassing", reduced to 45 days for good behavior. His trespassing consisted of sleeping on the ground behind a store a block from the 16th Street Mall. The same cop, "Jane", had told him on three other nights to "move on" from this spot and he was busted on the fourth night. "She's a real hard-ass" he said.
From Denver's Road Home -The cost per night to the City of Denver to house a person who is homeless at Denver Cares is over $200. The cost per night to house the person in jail is $55.So, taking the less expensive alternative, jail, is $55 for 45 nights = $2,475. Really, really dumb way for us to spend our money.
Overlooking the lies we were told to get this repressive law passed, and the "need" we had for a gigantic new jail, (oh, I forgot, they had to re-brand it as a new "Justice Center" to get it passed), it looks like what we really got was a very expensive new homeless shelter.
|Expensive new homeless shelter, aka, Denver's Justice Center|
Maybe we should just admit that and start allowing the homeless to sleep in the jail without the burdensome, and expensive, bother of arrest. We are already paying to keep the jail clean, warm, and ready to receive patrons. Let's just change the cell numbers to room numbers and save a bunch of money.
P.S. I forgot to add that Jack also reported that police rounded up 67 campers on one night last week. 67 x $2,475 = $165,825.