“The ACLU of Colorado has notified the Denver City Attorney’s Office (CAO) that the City is violating the terms of the Lyall settlement and threatening public health by arbitrarily designating two former homeless camp sites for “regular public works cleanups” without the support of the Homeless Advisory Group.
Stephen Meswarb, interim executive director, and Legal Director Mark Silverstein sent the letter on October 27, more than a month after the last quarterly meeting between Denver officials and the Homeless Advisory Group, a community organization created pursuant to the Lyall settlement to provide feedback on city housing policies.
According to the letter, city officials told the Homeless Advisory Group that the meeting was “more of a notification” and that CAO was not interested in gathering public input about designating the area surrounding 22nd Street and Stout Street and the area surrounding 24th Street and Arapahoe Street as regular public works cleanup sites.
Meswarb and Silverstein argue the designations were not made in accordance with the process set out in Lyall.
In order to designate an area for regular cleaning, the Lyall Agreement requires Denver to call an emergency meeting with the Advisory Group, state the need for regular cleaning, and provide documentation supporting the City’s determination. Denver did not meet any of these requirements, the letter states.
Furthermore, the settlement agreement requires Denver to demonstrate that the risk cannot be abated by any other means, a provision the letter argues the City has failed to abide by.
Instead, the letter says, Denver should provide restroom facilities, hand hygiene materials, and bath tissue for those experiencing homelessness instead of continuing to disperse encampments. This would bring the City in compliance with CDC guidelines that ask local officials to “allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.””
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Davis, Robert. Denver Voice 28 October 2020.