Aurora, CO

Aurora to vote on encampment cleanup on CDOT property

David Heitz

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Homeless encampments often appear under freeway overpasses.Stock image by Iris Wang/Unsplash

The Aurora City Council agreed Monday to vote next week on a contract to clean up homeless encampments.

The council discussed the issue during a study session. In the past, council debates regarding managing homeless encampments have been fierce.

But Monday, the discussion was amicable.

Aurora will consider a proposed $75,000 contract from the Colorado Department of Transportation to sweep encampments off state property. The contract also covers removing trash not related to the encampments.

City Council member Juan Marcano said he believes $75,000 is not enough to solve the problem. He also wanted to know whether the state intended to provide housing for those displaced by sweeps.

Aurora homeless services manager Lana Dalton told Marcano she would clarify that issue with state officials.

Without housing, those displaced from CDOT property will re-appear someplace else, Marcano said.

He compared cleaning up encampments to "playing whack-a-mole," fearing people removed from the CDOT property will end up along a creek in ward 4.

When the weather warms, he expects to see homeless encampments proliferate.

Marcano and Council Member Alison Coombs got complaints about the encampments as well as dumped trash appearing on CDOT property.

Marcano worries encampments on CDOT property, especially along Interstate 225, are extremely dangerous.

Aurora does not have an urban camping ban, but state law prohibits encampments on Colorado Department of Transportation property.

The issue of homeless encampments has become divisive on the Aurora City Council. In the past, council members have raised their voices with one another when discussing homeless encampments.

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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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