DENVER — The candidates running to be the next mayor of Denver talk a lot about their plans to help people experiencing homelessness.
Monday, the people most impacted by those decisions got to ask the candidates questions. Members of the unhoused community gathered outside the City and County Building downtown for a mayoral forum for people experiencing homelessness.
"I'm hoping they get some questions from the homeless population, hear what we have to say," said Aster Clarkson, who was the first to arrive at the forum so that he could sign up to ask a question. "Let’s all work together as human beings to make a better tomorrow for everybody."
While some candidates told the crowd they’ll focus on services and affordable places to live, Clarkson wants the drug problem solved first.
"There seems to be a drug problem that nothing is being done about. A lot of schizophrenia in the streets. A lot of people who aren’t very competent allowed to roam freely making fools of themselves in the streets," Clarkson said. "They’re just smoking this stuff and overdosing."
Mark Doyle agrees. He’s found housing now after previously living on the streets.
"Drug use has really killed this city in a lot of ways. Mental health goes along with that. There are good and bad ways of dealing with it," Doyle said. "The real work comes when they have to put action into it when they do become mayor. That’s when we can tell if they can talk the talk and walk the walk."
One of the most contentious topics at the forum was whether the next mayor will continue sweeping homeless encampments and enforce the camping ban. That’s when we heard the biggest boos, for those who said they would continue to sweep the camps, and cheers, for those who want to stop doing that.
"They need to wake up and be aware of the surroundings, be aware of the world we live in," Doyle said. "They can say anything they want to us. Then when they get into office is when we wait then to see the real deal."
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