Aurora, CO

Aurora hires company to clean up homeless encampments

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Aurora awarded a contract for $250,000 Monday to a company that will sweep away homeless encampments. It also adopted a resolution concerning storing items of people displaced by the sweeps.

Keesen Landscape Management, Inc. emerged on top after the city issued a request for proposals. The money will pay for encampment sweeps through the end of this year.

According to city estimates, the cleanups will cost Aurora about $625,000 per year. That includes six cleanups a week. Each sweep displaces an estimated 10 people.

According to City Council documents, cleanup costs break down to $75 per cubic yard. Additional charges include $15 per removed tire or battery, $100 for major appliances, $75 for sofas, and $85 per mattress.

The city must offer those it displaces in the sweeps a shelter bed to survive a court challenge to the camping ban.

Currently, the city set aside 10 mats on the floor at the Aurora Day Resource Center for people displaced by the sweeps.

By some estimates, enforcing the ban could cost as much as $4 million per year, including hiring shelter employees.

Displaced storage requirement minimal

Also, Monday, the council adopted a resolution providing limited storage for people displaced by the sweeps. The city will store only identification and other personal documents. Cleanup workers will not sift through belongings at sweeps but will set aside any identification or personal documents they see.

Jessica Prosser, who runs the city's homeless programs, said the city needs additional storage for people receiving case management looking for more stable housing.

"Individuals who actively seek the services of the Outreach Team at the Aurora Day Resource Center may need a safe place to store their personal belongings while they are receiving services," Prosser wrote in a memo to the council.

"The City will operate a storage facility near the Aurora Day Resource Center to store personal property capable of being stored for an individual who is working with a case worker of the Outreach Team to end their need to camp on public property. Individuals receiving Outreach services may require more than one year of services to end their need to camp on public property and the city will store their property while they are receiving those services."

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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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