Denver, CO

Beefing up Denver homeless services by de-funding police fails

David Heitz

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A tidy Denver homeless encampment is given notice to leave.Denver Homeless Out Loud

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver City Councilmember Candi CdeBaca proposed a series of amendments during budget hearings Thursday that would have greatly improved services for people experiencing homelessness.

About $130 million in line items would have funded services not only for the homeless but also for the elderly, low-income families and at-risk youths. Paying for these programs, however, would have come out of the Denver Police Department patrol budget.

Councilmember Kendra Black asked CdeBaca point blank if she was proposing to defund police patrol. “I notice all of your requests have DPD patrol listed (as the funding source). I added them all up and they take away most of the DPD patrol budget. So are you also suggesting that we not have that department anymore?”

CdeBaca responded, “Very sharp, good observation. I am not opposed to eliminating that budget.”

CdeBaca’s proposals included trash pickup for homeless encampments, reopening public restrooms and drinking fountains and more.

CdeBaca’s homeless services wish list

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Candi CdeBacaCity and County of Denver

Among the things CdeBaca asked for:

· City Owned Food Rescue & Storage Warehouse, $5 million

· Regular trash removal for homeless encampments, $500,000

· Expanded hotel acquisitions for people experiencing homelessness, $40 million

· Rental assistance, $15 million

· Master leasing, $20 million (city would be landlord for homeless properties)

· Legal support for eviction defense, $1 million

· Expansion of shower and laundry facilities for people experiencing homelessness, $1.5 million

· Lockers for people experiencing homelessness, $50,000. CdeBaca pointed out it’s difficult to work a job when you have to carry everything you own with you.

· Expansion of Denver Day Works, $200,000

· Public restrooms, $408,000

· Public water fountains, $100,000

· Recreation passes for people experiencing homelessness, $25,000

· A regional mental health and substance abuse facility, $10 million

Next, the council will send a letter to Mayor Michael Hancock regarding any proposed changes to his budget. None of CdeBaca’s items received the required seven votes to be included in the letter.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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