People experiencing homelessness and their advocates will meet Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in front of the Denver City and County building to voice their concerns and to fight the city's sweeps, which they said often pushes them out of warm places.
The city put a camping ban into place in 2012. The ban keeps people from setting up tents or sleeping bags and camping on public and private property without consent.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the ban helps eliminate safety and health hazards, which is why they have been sweeping the area.
Many people experiencing homelessness said they feel they are not hurting anyone by camping there.
“It's a methodical process and a system that we have studied," Hancock said. "We bring in our workers that are trained for this cleanup because we were finding needles, feces and urine in these encampments. We know that we are telling people that they need to move along, and while we tell them to move along, we are also providing them with services that will help them create a stable situation."
Hancock said cleanup crews have also found trash along some of the areas, which have caused rodent infestations in parks that are used by everyone.
Miquel Crosby, who has been experiencing homelessness for six years, said they are being harassed by police while being asked to leave.
“They’re doing all this and taking our stuff, but giving us no answers," Crosby said. "We are not trying to be violent, but we ask what you want us to do. You move us from one place to another, and you still tell us the same thing."
Terese Howard is the organizer for Denver Homeless Out Loud, the organization behind Wednesday evenings meeting. She said the sweeps are putting people experiencing homeless in more danger, not helping them.
“There is nowhere that the city says you can be, that is what the camping band says," Howard said. "It makes it illegal anywhere to be homeless, and that is what they are enforcing. It’s to the point you can’t sit down on the sidewalk anywhere. You can’t sit here with a blanket before the city says you have to leave."
Hancock said when an encampment is established, the city conducts an internal assessment of which beds are available in local shelters.
"We are seeing about 1,500 beds available in our shelters, as well as hotel vouchers to get people out of the elements," Hancock said. "Once we see that we do have the elements, we do go in and move them out."
Hancock also said city officials want to continue to work with people experiencing homelessness and get them connected to services that can help.