Denver, CO

Woman experiencing homelessness shares struggle with Denver City Council

David Heitz

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A woman experiencing homelessness addressed the Denver City Council during public comment period on Monday.

Lynda Spangler told the council that as a victim of domestic violence, she has had a challenging time finding shelter. She said her predator told staff lies about her in one shelter where she stayed. She was told to prove her innocence, she said.

In another place, drug dealers and users rule the roost, she said. “Am I going to get popped because I live in the same place they are?” she asked. "I am an older woman. There are not programs for me.”

She said that on the street, people living in homeless encampments need portable toilets and trash cans.

Spangler said she spent five days in the hospital after being bitten by a spider. “We need places to sit for the day,” she told the council. Few safe places are available for homeless people to simply rest during the day.

Resident complains about women’s shelter

Mary Anna Thompson, a regular speaker during Denver public comment period, said she believes conditions must be improved at the women’s shelter on 48th Street.

Catholic Charities of Denver runs the shelter. Known as Samaritan House 48th for women, it opened in June 2021. Thompson said there has been a COVID-19 outbreak at the shelter. She wondered if it’s being deep cleaned as it should.

Up to 275 women per night stay at the shelter, according to its website. “Samaritan House 48th will double our capacity to serve women,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of shelters and community outreach for Catholic Charities of Denver, in a news release. “We've worked closely with the City and County of Denver, and with other providers, to offer women safe shelter and address the struggles they face on a daily basis.”

Thompson said when the City Council asks for shelter updates, “This is the same as asking the warden of a prison if everything is OK. Housing is a human right.”

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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