Denver Police began clearing homeless camps in the Ballpark neighborhood Tuesday morning – the third such sweep in recent months, and a strategy that has been the target of a lawsuit against the city.
Notices were distributed Tuesday morning telling people to clear their belongings off the sidewalks surrounding the block around the Samaritan House near Larimer Street and Park Avenue West.
According to the notices, the belongings left behind will be taken to a warehouse at 2100 31st Street and be available for retrieval between 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Items not claimed within 30 days will be thrown away.
Despite a warning about the sweeps, a 9NEWS reporter in the area saw trash and bikes still littering the sidewalk.
The first cleanup was in March, when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock declared the area too unsanitary and unsafe. There was another sweep in September a little farther north.
The city says it’s making an effort to connect the homeless with services.
“I will never be convinced that it’s okay for people to defecate on the street. To allow for needles to be laid on the street, for trash to accumulate on the street, for people to sleep in the elements of our city. Not while the people of Denver are already investing in safe, decent shelter for individuals and wraparound services for them,” said Hancock in an interview with 9NEWS.
While Hancock sees the sweeps as a health and safety issue, the homeless and their advocates say it’s violating their Constitutional rights.
“What this lawsuit is, is telling the city, stop. Respect the constitutional right to treat these people with dignity. Stop swapping their dignity in for your chance to make a buck. Which is all this is about,” said the group’s attorney, Jason Flores-Williams.
Flores-Williams plans to be in the area with his clients on Tuesday amid the latest round of sweeps.
“If people decide that they want to resist these illegal orders from the city and these illegal depravations for the city and these violations of constitutional rights by the city, my law firm will support them in their resistance by representing them for free if they're arrested and charged,” Flores Williams said.
The city aims to raise $15 million a year to address homeless issues which proves difficult when the homeless refuse available services. The mayor points out that the city wants people to make use of the shelters which have beds open most nights.