Survey reveals how individuals affected by homelessness are affected by the Denver raids
Denver Homeless Out Loud advocacy group says most people have seen no evidence of an eviction and their property has been taken
Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite
07/19/2021, 12:20 p.m.
According to Denver Homeless Out Loud, a local group campaigning for the rights and protection of the homeless, people affected by homelessness in Denver have likely been caught multiple times in urban camps and then moved to another block.
The organization released a 39-page report on Monday that was finalized between April and August 2020 by group members and volunteers. It suggests that the majority of the 150 people surveyed who were affected by homelessness, or 89.3 percent, had experienced an eviction or urban removal. Most people had looked at it at least once, with many people experiencing multiple sweeps over a period of six months. The last census and survey for Denver in 2020 found over 4,000 people were homeless in the city.
Most people reported seeing no notice of an eviction before it took place (the notices are something the city agreed to following a lawsuit in 2019). Less than a third of people, or 29.3 percent, said they saw a notice. 31 people or 20.6 percent of those surveyed said they had moved to an animal shelter, hotel or apartment after an eviction with a friend or an apartment. According to the report, less than 5 percent said they had moved into an apartment.
Most people, 69 percent, said they simply moved to another block nearby after doing a sweep. Denver Homeless Out Loud activist Terese Howard gave a brief presentation at Civic Center Park on Monday to go over the report.
“I think this is one of those eye-catching pieces that over 70 percent of the people we surveyed have at some point moved back to a place they were previously swept from,” said Howard.
The sweeps, which data shows has been increasing in recent months, are city-approved cleanups that target the poor conditions surrounding camps. Denver Homeless Out Loud, along with other advocates and members of the public, have urged the city to stop the raids which they believe may have traumatic effects on the people being moved.
Derek Woodbury, a spokesman for the Department of Housing Stability, said in a statement to Denverite the department is “squarely focused on the number one housing preference expressed by respondents to this survey: housing.” The respondents to the survey stated that living in a house had the highest preference over living in a tent or a shelter.
“From the hugely successful Social Impact Bond program, to new transitional housing concepts, to a growing pipeline of supportive housing projects, we’re doing more than ever to develop new approaches to ensure people are healthy, housed and connected to services, stability offer, ”Woodbury said in a statement. “We stand firm in this endeavor.”
The poll was authored and completed by Denver Homeless Out Loud when the city largely suspended sweeps due to the pandemic.
Other recommendations in the report include providing regular garbage collection and personal hygiene supplies for the homeless, ensuring camps of all sizes receive 7-day notifications, no police tape is used during raids, and communication is improved to let people know where their things are kept after a sweep.
The full report is available on the Denver Homeless Out Loud website.
This story has been updated to include a comment from the City’s Department of Housing Stability.