The Denver camping ban went into effect May 29, prohibiting unauthorized camping on public property. According to Mark Jones of the Auraria Police Department, Auraria has not been affected.
“Before the camping ban that Denver passed, we still had the state statute for the camping ban on campus — because you can’t camp on state property. We don’t have more homeless people down here than before; we don’t have any less,” he said.
However, according to Brittany Randall, a homeless woman, there are now more homeless people seeking shelter at Auraria.
“I’ve seen more people coming on the campus because of the camping ban. There’s more places to hide,” she said while standing in the food line at the St. Elizabeth’s Church on campus.
Randall used to camp out with Occupy Denver before the camping ban. Now, because she is a single woman with no kids and no mental condition, most shelters turn her away. Also, most shelters in Denver are often at maximum capacity. She is allowed to stay at the Samaritan House located in downtown Denver but still prefers to sleep outside.
“It’s just drug-ridden. I would never stay there. I feel safer [outside] than in the shelters absolutely,” she said.
The Denver Police Department has told the public that few arrests would be made for people camping out and they would assist the homeless to find human services or give warnings. Still, Randall says she has so far been threatened once with an arrest and a fine if she did not leave her sleeping spot immediately.
According to their website, Occupy Denver finds the police department’s statements to be untrue, and speakers at Occupy told The Metropolitan they think the camping ban is inhumane.
A 25-year-old homeless woman who goes by the street name “Short-Stack” explained that every other morning city officials sweep through Civic Center Park and are usually met with little resistance.
“There’s also the people that honestly don’t know any other way of life other than being on the streets,” she said. “They’re taking that away. Who’s going to go to the mountains when they can come down here and make money?”
Short-Stack said she sleeps outside of shelters as well as at the park, because she and her husband get turned away for not having their marriage certificate.
At Auraria, Jones says that the problem is not severe.
“We have people that come down here, they’ll fall asleep, start setting up camp,” he said. “We don’t arrest them for it, we just give them a warning. We try to inform them where the shelters are and where they can go.”