Two safe campsites opened in Denver this month. The first in the First Baptist Church parking lot on Capitol Hill is reserved for women and transsexuals. The second, in Denver Community Church on 16th Street and Pearl Street, seats forty people. it opened on December 16.

Service providers in Denver began advancing their concept of safe outdoor spaces back in April when homeless camps sprang up across the city. The idea is to offer tents to homeless people in protected areas while providing them with sinks, toilets and access to services. During the pandemic, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising communities not to sweep bearings to avoid the spread of COVID, the need has become particularly urgent.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh has been reporting on the safe camping proposal since spring: reporting on Mayor Michael Hancock’s initial opposition, then his turnaround in July; Tracking the ups and downs for service providers as neighbors who objected to potential locations; Share passionate comments from supporters and advocates. Finally he decided to find out what he had written about and spent the night in a safe campsite that week.

His story inspired hundreds of comments on the Westword Facebook page. Says Christine:

This is a good story to keep us updated. Sounds like a decent camp for the homeless. But how many people are there still without a roof over their heads? I bet I could check out the foyer of my building and find someone to sleep there.

Billy answers:

I really hope they park one in front of your residence because it sucks balls unless you like people who shit in your yard. Add some needles there and leave your bike outside and the windows open.

Comments Neil:

Cool story and all, but this place will be destroyed in less than two weeks like downtown and Civic Center Park. Hope there is a biologically filled recycling tub nearby as the needles pile up too.

Answers Elle:

Garbage and bathroom! It’s that simple. I’d love to see what one of our homes would look like without these.

Miracle Nick:

When does Cherry Creek get its camp? Central Park? Green Valley Ranch? Signed: Downtown Denver residents who keep screwing up.

Answers Jonathan:

There are some of them incognito, and there are some heading towards DIA, believe it or not.

Notes Meagan:

I get so angry about people who don’t read up on poverty and trauma. Everyone deserves the opportunity to get back on their feet. Proper living shouldn’t even be a question.

Adds Mark:

I work across from a safe place for the unhoused and am very happy with the way they run this space. This is what the vacation is all about: giving to the less fortunate. For those of you with ugly and uncomfortable comments, remember that karma is a bitch. You get what you give … Happy Holidays.

But then there’s the following from Ventus:

One night means nothing.

Rather than occupy one of the forty highly sought-after sites, Conor spent the night the day before the safe campsite actually opened … and then reported on the evidence hearing in the class action lawsuit against the city’s homeless camps. In the days since then, he has continued reporting on the issue of homelessness as well as other topics ranging from police reform to the US space command.

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He also chatted with 9News about his night there:

What do you think of the city’s new safe campsites? What other stories would you like to see Conor Cover? Write a comment or email your thoughts to [email protected]

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