I support

  • Local
  • Community
  • journalism

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep Westword’s future free.

Garrett Flicker, the new Denver Republican Party leader, is pushing for a November election proposal that would allow up to four city-funded, sanctioned homeless camps – and could also step up enforcement in unapproved camps.

“We wanted to make sure that the warehouses had basic services like sanitation, sanitation, running water and security lighting. Because of these services that cost more in your warehouses compared to your traditional pop-up warehouses, and these with the ability to Combine patrol For these four camps, we chose four, “Flicker said during a meeting with city officials on April 16 to answer questions about the proposed initiative.

The move would revise Denver’s 2012 urban camping ban to include a provision allowing the four designated campsites while strengthening enforcement requirements for the distribution of unapproved camps.

“Anyone can file a complaint with the city to enforce this section,” says the initiative language. “The city must take enforcement action within 72 hours of filing a complaint.”

If the authorities don’t respond to this complaint in a timely manner, a person can sue the City of Denver under the proposal.

The proposed initiative does not specify the maximum size of a designated campsite or the number of individual pitches within a site. During the April 16 meeting, Flicker stated that the initiative “leaves flexibility in the regulation to allow the city to decide on these specifications”.

Flicker, who did not respond to Westwords requests for an interview, posted information about the meeting on Facebook and noted that the initiative is focused on “eradicating the homelessness epidemic”.

Flicker also spoke to Axios Denver, who noted that the Denver Republican Party chairman, at age 25, is “the youngest and first openly gay man to ever lead the group.” He told Axios Denver that he “would like the party to target the 2023 local elections, specifically to oust two self-identified Democratic Socialists: councilor Candi CdeBaca and school board member Tay Anderson.”

And the warehouse initiative isn’t the only one Flicker is driving: He’s also working on a proposal to cut sales tax in Denver from 4.81 percent to 4.5 percent.

Garrett Flicker met with city officials on April 16 regarding the election initiative for homeless camps.EXPAND

Garrett Flicker met with city officials on April 16 regarding the election initiative for homeless camps.

City of Denver

Denver voters have approved numerous sales tax increases in recent years, including Measure 2B in November 2020, which will increase funding for homeless programs. And in May 2019, Denver voters overwhelmingly rejected Initiative 300, which sought to repeal laws that advocate the criminalization of homelessness, including city camping bans, and create civil liability for Denver if the city dictated Rights of homeless people violated.

According to current estimates, over 1,000 people live on the streets in Denver. The city conducts frequent searches of camps, but is now bound by a federal court order requiring Denver to give seven days ‘notice and 48 hours’ notice to most searches, even as new public health conditions arise .

Service providers who have reviewed Flicker’s initiative say they have concerns about the proposal.

“While I strongly support expanding Safe Outdoor Spaces and similar strategies to the vulnerable, enforcing camps through policing is the absolutely wrong way to do it,” said Cole Chandler, director of the Colorado Village Collaborative, which operates a safe . Campsite for the homeless. “This initiative would disproportionately affect Blacks, Indigenous and Latin Americans, who are disproportionately represented in the unprotected homeless population, and would be a huge step backwards for a city that recently changed its camp response strategies and for a nation that is ours public security wants to change the system. “

And Robin Kniech, a member of Denver city council, says the city’s existing safe campground model is “far better than the camps that would drive the move.” There are currently two such websites, both set up by non-profit organizations. A third has been proposed for South Park Hill.

“Safe Outdoor Spaces not only provides designated spaces with restrooms, but also provides staff and support and 24/7 services to help individuals resolve their homelessness. We don’t need an elective to expand the model, we just need one clear path for approval sites after the end of the pandemic (something that is now in the power of the city) and more political will and acceptance in the community to place additional sites, “adds Kniech.

Instead of the enforcement model proposed by the initiative, Kniech says: “I would strongly support the provision of mobile garbage disposal and the rotation of our mobile toilets to mitigate the effects of even unregulated camps, but the best use of land for long-term use would be for far more humane and proven interventions such as safe outdoor spaces or tiny home villages with services. “

There are two safe campsites in Denver for people affected by homelessness.

There are two safe campsites in Denver for people affected by homelessness.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh

The language of the initiative is “misleading,” says Cathy Alderman of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “It’s about wanting to set up those safe outdoor areas and doing it with city funding. If those four areas don’t – and may not – be set up, you still have more camping enforcement with less I don’t think it will is a very compelling question, and I think it would be harmful rather than helpful. ”

In addition to Flicker, the election committee form lists four people at the same address in Park Hill. Two of them did not reply to messages from Westword; Another hung up when a reporter identified himself. Reached by phone, the fourth person on the form, Jonah Smith, replied, “Sorry, I don’t speak to media sources.”

After the proposal was approved by the city, the Flicker Committee applied for permission to begin collecting signatures. The Denver Clerk and Recorder office will review the filing next week. In order for the proposal to lead to a vote in November, the committee must have submitted 9,184 valid signatures by the beginning of July.

Keep Westword Free … Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we want to keep it that way. We offer our readers free access to concise coverage of local news, food and culture. Produce stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands with bold reporting, stylish writing, and staff everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Feature Writing Award to the Casey Medal for the Deservable Journalism have won. Given that the existence of local journalism amid siege and setbacks has a greater impact on advertising revenue, it is more important than ever for us to raise support for funding our local journalism. You can help by joining our I Support membership program which allows us to continue to cover Denver without paywalls.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh works for Westword where he covers a range of topics including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves talking about New York sports.