mulberry daria continental wallet Boulder won’t stop ticketing homeless for sleeping in public
8 12 hours Amount of community service most indigent people are assigned in lieu of paying fine
The city of Boulder will continue to enforce its anti camping rules, despite the pleas of homeless people and their advocates, but officials said the city will step up its efforts to expand emergency shelter and look for long term affordable housing solutions.
In a unanimous vote, the Boulder City Council decided the city will work with groups that provide services to the homeless to expand temporary shelter options and work with the Human Relations Commission as it examines the city’s 10 year plan to end homelessness. That plan will be presented to the council in April.
Last month, dozens of homeless people and their advocates asked the council to place a moratorium on enforcement of the anti camping rules and said the ordinance essentially criminalizes homelessness.
The City Council agreed to consider a moratorium as an emergency ordinance, but quickly reconsidered. He said many people want to live in Boulder but cannot afford to, so they live elsewhere.
Terri Sternberg, a former Longmont resident who has been homeless for more than a year, said people need to remember that a moratorium is not, by definition, a long term solution and isn’t intended to be one.
“It’s an intermediate solution,” she said, but one that would free up resources, in the form of jail and court costs, that could be redirected to expanding shelter options.
After the meeting, at which roughly two dozen people testified in favor of the moratorium, Sternberg said the outcome was a “foregone conclusion,” and it’s hard not to feel that people wasted their time in testifying.
At the same time, she said Homeless Moratorium Endeavor or HOME, the group pushing for a break in enforcement of the anti camping rules raised awareness. She said activists will make sure the city keeps its commitment to increasing temporary beds.
“We’ll be back,” she said. “We have nowhere else to go.”
Brad Hart read a statement from HOME that said decriminalizing sleeping would allow nonprofit agencies and law enforcement to better use their resources. Hart said the group is proposing that people be allowed to camp in designated areas in parks with existing bathrooms. The group was not proposing that homeless people sleep wherever they want or in tent cities, and it was not asking for the suspension of enforcement of littering laws or other regulations.
“Most homeless prefer to sleep indoors,” Hart said. “We appreciate the city’s willingness to look at expanding beds.”
Madelyn Clair said she was amazed the homeless community had put its energy into defending camping and said advocates should instead reach out to the faith based community to expand shelter beds and services.
“Sleeping outside, surrounded by other people and perhaps your preferred substance, without access to hygiene facilities, is not the way to prepare to seek daytime employment,” she said. “It just perpetuates camping.”
Michael Fitzgerald said he sleeps outside most of the year because he has no choice.
“We have to be somewhere. We have to live somewhere. And I live in Boulder,” said Fitzgerald, who has lived in Boulder since 1991 and has been homeless since 2007. “I’m not out there to break laws. I’m out there trying to stay alive.”
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