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No Right to Rest - Criminalizing Homelessness in CO, UC, 2015

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Criminalizing Homelessness in Colorado

Tony Robinson (Ph.D.) and Allison Sickels
University of Colorado Denver

Survey Design and Data Collection
by Denver Homeless Out Loud

April 3, 2013



Criminalizing Homelessness in Colorado

The Denver Homeless Out Loud Report Team
Athena Landy, Alan, Antony Hebblethwaite, Benjamin Donlon, Billie Bramhall, Caroline
Carter, Cheryl Distaso, Darren O'Conner, Debbie Brady, Gaya Kirk, Hana Dansky, Jesse
Parish, Jennine Jefferies, John Skittles, Ken Caffas, Lexi, Marcus Hyde, Mysty Nicole,
Nancy Peters, Ray Lyall, Randy, Robert Hudson, Sarah, Steve Bass, Stu Hill, Terese
Howard, Wesley, and everyone else we have forgotten but who is deeply appreciated.

April 4, 2015

The Following
Organizations were CoOrganizers of this
Survey Project



Bayaud Homeless
Advisory Council


Boulder Rights Watch


Denver Homeless Out



9to5 Colorado

Fort Collins Homeless


Grand Junction
Solidarity Not Charity



This report would not have been possible without
the generous time provided by hundreds of
Colorado residents who are living without homes.
Four hundred and forty-one Colorado residents took
the time to respond to the survey, and to partake in
interviews on the subject.
Their insights reveal the consequences of public
policy on the quality of life for some of Colorado’s
most vulnerable residents.
Their voices deserve to be heard.

About Denver Homeless Out Loud
Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) works with and for
people who experience homelessness, to solve the issues

help protect and advocate for dignity, rights and choices for
people experiencing homelessness. To these ends, we
commit our efforts toward goals affirmed and raised by


that arise from the experience of homelessness. We work to

homeless people, within our organization and without. We
strive to add our strengths together to create ways of living
in which everyone has a place they can call home.
DHOL can be reached at:


Table of Contents
Executive Summary____________________________________________________7

No Right to Rest: Criminalizing Homelessness

People Living in Public Places___________________________________________________________14
Criminalizing Homelessness: Nationwide and in Colorado _________________________18

PART II The Homeless Rights Survey: Methodology and Findings
Survey Background and Methodology__________________________________________________26
Homeless Experiences with Police______________________________________________________30
Extra-Judicial Harassment_______________________________________________________________42


Violations of Basic Human Rights_______________________________________________________ 53

Part III

The Colorado “Right to Rest” Act

Responding to the Human Rights Crisis: The CO Right to Rest Act ________________ 62
Beyond the “”Right to Rest Act__________________________________________________________66

Part IV

Appendices and Endnotes

Appendix A: Colorado Anti-Homeless Laws__________________________________________70
Appendix B: DHOL Reflects on the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign_____________ 71
Appendix C: “Right to Rest” Act: Frequently Asked Questions_____________________73

Special Features


Homeless Arrest Turns Deadly________________________________________________________50
Public Costs of Criminalization________________________________________________________37
Is A T-Shirt Illegal Shelter? Creative Criminalization in Boulder___________________38
In Denver, It’s Now Illegal to Sit_______________________________________________________23
Knifing Tents and Slashing Tires: Grand Junction Police Search the Homeless___52
Interviews with People Living Without Homes______________________________40, 48, 58

List of Charts
Chart 1. Rents Increasingly Unaffordable……………………………………………………...….…14
Chart 2. Inadequate Rental Assistance…………………………………………………….…………..14
Chart 3. Denver Homeless Individuals and Shelter Bed Growth (1998-2011)..….…..16
Chart 4. Increasing Number of Municipalities Passing Anti-Homeless Laws................20
Chart 5. Frequency of Police Contact with Homeless People……………………………......31
Chart 6. Five Common Crimes of Homelessness: Tickets Issued by Denver Police...32
Chart 7-10 Percent of Homeless Respondents Harassed, Cited, or Arrested……..33-34
Chart 11. Homeless Jail Time for Minor Infractions................................................................35
Chart 12. Percent of Homeless Respondents Harassed Without Legal Reason….…..42
Chart 13. Have Police Every Taken Your Belongings?………………………………….…..…..44

Chart 15. Rough Treatment of Homeless People………………………….…………………......47
Chart 16. Private Security Harassment……………………………………………………….………47
Chart 17. Violations of Basic Rights of Homeless People…………………………………….55
Chart 18. Homeless Respondents Records of Being Turned Away at Shelters……..56


Chart 14. If You Didn’t Receive Your Belongings Back, Why Not?……………………..…45

Chart 19. Private Violations at Shelters and Service Providers………………………......59
Chart 20. Have You Been Treated With Respect by Service Providers?…………….…59

List of Tables and Figures
Table 1. Persistent Violations of the Rights of Homeless People………………………….. 9
Table 2. Criminalizing Homelessness: A survey of 187 American Cities…………..….19
Table 3. Race/Ethnicity of DHOL Survey Respondents vs. MDHI Respondents…….28
Table 4. Demographics of DHOL Survey Respondents vs. MDHI Respondents……..28
Figure 1: Attempted Food-Sharing Bans Nationwide….........................................................20
Figure 2: Police Harassment of Homeless Nationwide…………………………………..........21



Executive Summary

Admittedly, Colorado cities are facing a profound and growing challenge of homeless people
struggling to survive in public places. As poverty levels remain high, low-income housing
units disappear, and housing prices rise, homeless remains a tremendous problem across
the state. In most official studies of housing markets, local officials recognize that there is
inadequate low-income housing stock, and that thousands of people across the state, every
night, have little choice but to sleep on the streets, in cars, or in parks.
But even while recognizing that thousands of Colorado residents have no choice but to live
in public places, Colorado officials are increasingly making it illegal to do so. All across the
state, cites are declaring that people without homes have no right to rest within their
borders, and are mobilizing substantial police resources to enforce those laws.


In Denver, it is illegal for homeless residents to sleep or sit on downtown sidewalks, or to
use any form of shelter from the cold or sun other than their clothing. In Boulder, city
officials have put homeless people on trial for using a backpack pillow as a form of “shelter,”
since it is used to keep one’s head from touching the ground. In Grand Junction, officials have
locked public bathrooms and shut down water fountains in downtown parks so as to
discourage homeless people from coming to the area. In Durango, a peaceful street guitar
player was ticketed due to having his guitar case open to accept donations. All across
Colorado, jurisdictions are increasingly treating homelessness as a criminal condition, and
are illegalizing the activities of homeless people in public spaces.

This study examines the consequences of criminalizing homelessness in Colorado, from the
point of view of homeless people themselves. The study reports on a poll of 441 homeless
individuals from cross Colorado regarding their interactions with police and private security
forces and reports on how criminalization is undermining the quality of life for homeless
people, violating constitutional and human rights, costing localities millions in enforcement
dollars, and increasing the likelihood that people will remain homeless.
Criminalization of Homelessness: Policing Practices in Colorado
All across America, and in Colorado, jurisdictions are passing an increasing number of laws
banning the survival activities of homeless people, such as bans on sleeping, sitting, loitering,
using shelter, or panhandling. The survey in this report shows that the growth of such laws
has resulted in substantial police engagement with homeless people, often resulting in
citations and arrest. Findings include:

36% of survey respondents have been arrested for a crime of homelessness;



70% of survey respondents have been ticketed for a crime of homelessness;


90% of survey respondents report police harassment for a crime of

Extra-Judicial Policing


In addition to formal citation and arrest, this survey finds evidence of substantial extrajudicial harassment of homeless people. Both police and private security forces commonly
harass and enforce punishments on homeless people, even without legal authority to do so.

76% of respondents report frequent harassment by police or private security guards
without due process of law.


61% of our respondents report having their belongings taken by police during an
encounter, and only 19% ever got those belongings back.


72% of respondents report “rough treatment” by police or private security.
Documented cases of “rough treatment” discussed in this report include: homeless
residents being kicked in the face, police officers slashing holes in people’s tents and
destroying their bicycles without legal authority, and one homeless man brutally
choked and tasered to death while handcuffed in police custody.

Violations of Basic Rights
All across Colorado, homeless people are being denied access to basic rights of human



83% have been denied access to a bathroom, due to the increasing scarcity of
public restrooms.


73% have been turned away from shelters, without an alternative place to go.


67% have been denied a job due to their homeless appearance.


63% have found difficulty accessing clean water.


60% report that they frequently cannot get a night’s sleep due to constant police
efforts to “move them along.

A summary of people’s experiences in dealing with the criminalization of homelessness in
Colorado is provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Persistent Violations of the Rights of Homeless People 1

No Right to Rest: Persistent Violations of the Rights of Homeless People
Results from Survey of 441 People Living Without Homes in Colorado
Have you Ever Been Ticketed, Arrested, or Harassed for one of the violations listed below?

Sleeping in Public


Sitting on a Sidewalk or Street




Park Curfew


Using a Private Business Restroom




Sleeping in a Vehicle






Sleeping in Vehicle




Have you ever been arrested for one of
these preceding crimes?


Ever spent time in jail, due to lack of income to
pay bail or a ticket for a minor infraction?


Have police ever harassed you without a
legal reason?


Have police ever taken your belongings?


If police did take your belongings, did
you ever get them back?


Have you witnessed private security guards
harassing homeless people?


Has anyone ever treated you roughly,
either physically or verbally, because of
your homelessness?


Have you ever been turned away from a shelter,
due to space limitations?


Have you ever been denied access to a
bathroom, due to your appearance as


Has you ever lost access job to a job due to your
appearance as homeless?


Have you even been unable to access
water, due to your homeless status?


Have you ever been offered a place to stay in
exchange for sexual liberties?


I feel my rights have been violated
because of my homeless status



Policing cost to Larimer County, CO, for
4 years of arrests and incarceration of
homeless people


Number of tickets issued by Denver Police, 20102012, for five crimes of homelessness: Curfew,
Panhandling, Sleep/Sit, Erecting Tent, Pedestrian
in Roadway


(90% of Respondents Answered “Yes” to at least one category listed below)


Criminalizing Homelessness: Cruel, Unconstitutional and Counterproductive

These criminalization laws, policies and practices are cruel and harmful to homeless people,
legally indefensible, and counterproductive in addressing the problem of homeless.
In terms of causing harm to homeless members of our community, the criminalization trend
has multiple consequences. Criminalizing homelessness fosters fear and anxiety among
Colorado’s homeless residents, and causes a constant pattern of “moving along,” loss of sleep
and frequent incarceration. Even worse, episodes of harsh treatment and outright violence
against homeless people at the hands of police and private security are too common.


These laws are also legally questionable in that they violate the constitutional rights of
homeless individuals to free speech, to travel, and to be free of search and seizures without
due process. They also violate fundamental human rights such as the right to sleep, the
right to personal hygiene and the right to move through public spaces. They expose cities
to legal suits by groups such as the ACLU—suits that are frequently lost, at substantial
taxpayer expense.
Finally, these laws are costly to enforce and counterproductive to the goal of reducing
homelessness. Policing, ticketing and arresting thousands of homeless people for their acts
of public survival costs Colorado jurisdictions millions of dollars. Ironically, this kind of
policing also exacerbates the problem of homelessness, in that problems with the criminal
justice system only make it less likely that a homeless person will be able to break the cycle
of homelessness. Constantly being “moved along” by police cases sleep fatigue, which
reduces a person’s cognitive capacities and increases risk of illness. Costly tickets and
arrests create a criminal record, which makes it harder for a homeless person to secure
housing or to land a job.
In sum, Colorado’s policy of criminalizing homelessness has had three important
consequences: it has reduced the quality of life for homeless people, it has resulted in
millions of spent taxpayer dollars for policing and jails, and it has catalyzed longer, more
troubled, spells of homelessness.
Towards a Right to Rest in Colorado


A better approach is called for. The Colorado right to rest act--proposed this year in the
Colorado Legislature as HB-1284--would clarify Colorado’s commitment to the
constitutional and human rights of homeless people. Passing this act would immediately
improve the quality of life for people without homes, would save localities money in policing
costs, and would also make it easier for homeless people to stabilize their lives and move off
the streets. Treating the homeless as criminals for their acts of public survival must stop.
Colorado should have the conviction to honor the human rights of all residents, and take the
ethical and pragmatic step of recognizing that everyone, rich or poor, has a right to rest.


(1) A person experiencing homelessness is permitted to use public space in the
same manner as any other person experiencing homelessness is permitted to
use public space in the same manner as any other person without
discrimination based on housing status. Every person in the state shall have
the following basic human and civil rights, which may be exercised without
being subject to criminal or civil sanctions or harassment by law
enforcement, public or private security personnel, or district agents:
(a) The right to use and move freely in public spaces without discrimination
or time limitations that discriminate based on housing status;


Section 24-4.5-104. Protected rights of persons experiencing homelessness

(b) The right to rest in public spaces and protect oneself from the elements
in a non-obstructive manner;
(c) The right to eat, share, accept, or give food in any public space where
food is not prohibited;
(d) The right to occupy a motor vehicle, provided that the vehicle is legally
parked on public property or parked on private property with the
permission of the property owner; and
(e) The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy on one’s personal
property in public spaces to the same extent as personal property in a
private residence or other private place.
* Note: The preceding language is from the Colorado Right to Rest Act, as originally
introduced. As the Bill moves through the legislative process, amendments will
naturally change some of the language and provisions of the Bill.




Criminalizing Homelessness in Colorado


People Living in Public Places


On any given night in Colorado, thousands of people are sleeping without formal shelter—
on the streets, in cars, and in parks. 2 They are sleeping outside for a multitude of reasons,
including: increasing housing costs and a lack of affordable housing, the inability to earn a
living wage, the recession with accompanying loss of jobs and high foreclosure rates,
disabling medical conditions, medical bankruptcy, domestic violence, and an emergency
shelter system that fails to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Every
night, therefore, thousands of people in Colorado seek to survive without formal shelter.
Many have sought to shelter themselves on the streets for years, they will be looking to
survive tonight, and they will continue to look for shelter on Colorado’s streets for the
foreseeable future.
The most important cause of this homelessness crisis is a lack of affordable homes. Since
2001, over 12.8% of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost,
and investment in the development of new affordable housing has been insufficient to meet
the need. The United States has lost about 200,000 units of low-income housing stock every
year since the 1980s (about half of the nation’s entire low-income housing stock), so that
today there are 6.4 million more low-income people than there are low-income housing
units. For the subsidized low-income units that that do remain, waiting lists are long.
Nationwide, the average wait for a Section 8 housing voucher is 35 months. As a result of
declines in both housing stock and housing assistance, today the poorest 20% of Americans
spend 87% of their income every year simply on housing. 3
Chart 1. Rents Increasingly Unaffordable


Chart 2. Inadequate Rental Assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (“HUD”) 2014 Point-in-Time count
reported that 578,424 people were homeless on a single night in America in 2014. Across
the nation, 62% of reporting jurisdictions tell HUD that they have more homeless persons
than shelter beds. As a result, the 2014 nationwide Point in Time survey estimates that
30.7% of all homeless individuals and families—more than 153,000 people— have no choice
but sleep and seek shelter on the streets every night. Furthermore, “this count does not
adequately capture the full picture of homelessness. The Point-in-Time count looks at people
who are in shelters, transitional housing, or in observable public places on a single night. Not
included, however, are people who are doubled up or couch surfing because they cannot
afford their own places to live. Also excluded from the count are people in hospitals, mental
health or substance abuse centers, jails or prisons with nowhere to go upon release.” As an
example of the scale of these additional populations, national data indicates that there are
7.4 million people (1 in 11 households) currently living “doubled up” with friends or
extended families, and at high risk of becoming homeless.5
Things are particularly bad in Colorado. HUD data recently put the Denver rental market in
the top third of the priciest rental markets in America, and Colorado is among the top third
of states for the share of the workforce with a severe housing cost burden. 6 A declining,
inflation-adjusted minimum wage in Colorado means that in 2012, a minimum wage
Colorado worker would have to work 88 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to afford an average
1 bedroom apartment in the state. 7 In 2010, a quarter of Colorado renters paid more than
50% of their income on housing and nearly 40% paid more than 30% of their income on
housing. 8 Housing Market Analysis reveals that more than 80% of low-income renters in
Denver alone have an unaffordable rent burden (paying more than 30% of their income for
rent), and that Denver needs an additional 25,647 low-income housing units to adequately
shelter residents earning under $20,000 a year. 9 Statewide, The Colorado Division of
Housing reports that the state doesn’t even have half the low-income housing units that it
needs for households earning less than $20,000. 10


Declining low-income housing stock correlates with rising homelessness as increasing
numbers of people are simply unable to afford housing. When the federal government
stopped funding new public housing—spending dropped from over $16 billion per year in
1978 to nothing since 1996—homelessness quickly tripled or quadrupled in every major US
city and has risen steadily since. 4

These patterns have led to a substantial homelessness crisis in Colorado. Though there are
no reliable counts of homeless individuals and families across the entire state, we do know
that approximately 23,000 homeless children attend schools in Colorado.11
The city of Denver provides a good example of state-wide trends. Data shows that the
number of homeless people in the Denver region has grown 600% in the last twenty years.
Even as the number of Denver’s homeless residents has dramatically grown, moreover, the
number of emergency shelter beds has been stagnant for years. In 1988 there were shelter


beds available for 55% of Denver’s homeless population; today shelter beds are available
for only about 10% of this population. 12
Chart 3. Denver Homeless Individuals and Shelter Bed Growth, 1988-2011

Homeless Individuals


Denver Shelter Beds


1988 1990 1995 1998 2000 2003 2005 2007 2010 2011


Sources: Denver Homeless Planning Group, “A Blueprint for Addressing Homelessness in
Denver,” 2003; Metro Denver Homeless Initiatives Annual Point in Time Surveys; MDHI 2010
“Continuum of Care” NOFA Application.

The 2012 National Housing Alliance’s Assessment of the Denver Shelter System
(commissioned by the city of Denver) found that “the shelter system in Denver has less
public investment and less overall investment than in many other communities.” 13 This
assessment found that long wait times and an uncoordinated and inefficient entry system
into shelters kept many people from accessing the shelter they needed. Indicating the scale
of the problem, HUD’s 2011 count of homeless people nationwide put Colorado among the
top five states in the nation for the percent of homeless people living without any shelter at
What few shelter units there are, furthermore, do not always serve unique homeless
populations, such as youth, couples (especially same-sex couples), fathers with children,
people whose work hours conflict with shelter hours, people with pets, and those with
mental or physical disabilities. As just one example of a severely unmet need, Denver has
1,792 homeless women (according to the 2o12 MDHI count), but only about 275 shelter beds
for these women. A count in 2011 showed that 850 women on any given night were
competing for just 125 beds that were free each night. 15 Crowds of women wait hours each
day in queuing areas, hoping to win a lottery draw for a nightly bed—but in the end, more

women than not are turned away without shelter each night. Anxiety attacks, panicked fear
and angry outbreaks are common as women wait in queuing areas for a space. 16

“Another challenge for [Denver]
emergency shelters is addressing specific
subpopulations, including people with
pets, people with service animals, people
who are intoxicated, childless couples,
and fathers with their children. We were
not able to identify any emergency
shelter that takes pets...”
“Many of the shelters serve people who
are intoxicated, although there appear to
be no good options for youth who are
intoxicated…There also appears to be no
place for childless couples, although they
can stay in separate shelters, or in the
case of Samaritan House, in separate
rooms of the shelter.”
--National Alliance to End Homelessness,
Denver Shelter Assessment (2012 )


Another under-served homeless population is
the mentally ill (and dually diagnosed—those
with mental illness and substance abuse). In
2011, more than 2,000 people who were
homeless and mentally ill were on a waiting list
for services at the Colorado Coalition for the
Homeless’ Stout Street clinic. 17
A recent
Denver Post column highlighted the
deterioration of services to assist those
struggling with mental illness in Colorado. “In
1955, there were over 300 inpatient
psychiatric beds per 100,000 people in the
United States.
Today, according to the
Treatment Advocacy Center, there are 14.1
beds per 100,000 people — the same number
as in 1850. In 2009, Colorado had the fewest
psychiatric beds in the country, according to
the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Now, Colorado is 48th out of the 50 states for
psychiatric beds.”18

In the last 25 years, Colorado housing prices
have left thousands unable to afford housing,
while public housing construction and housing
assistance programs have withered, with the result that homelessness has increased
dramatically. At the same time, shelter units have remained stagnant and can now only
house about 10% of homeless people in the Denver area. 19 These facts have led thousands
of homeless residents to shelter themselves in Colorado’s streets, parks and other public
places. In response, local jurisdictions have chosen to illegalize the survival acts of these
street populations—a dynamic that will be discussed in the following section of this report.
“The number one issue is that if we doubled shelter services today, we still would not
have enough to meet the needs of everybody in this city. No one could have predicted
the economic situation that we sit in today.”
-- Bennie Milliner, Executive Director, Denver’s Road Home


Criminalizing Homelessness


“Homelessness continues to be a
national crisis, affecting millions of
people each year, including a rising
number of families. Homeless
people, like all people, must engage
in activities such as sleeping or
sitting down in order to survive. Yet,
in communities across the nation,
these harmless, unavoidable
behaviors are treated as criminal
activity under laws that criminalize


Despite a lack of affordable housing
and shelter space, many cities have
chosen to criminally punish people
living on the street from doing what
any human being must do to

As the number of unsheltered residents have
increased, so have concerns among some
public officials that the urban environment
and business climate is being undermined by
the presence of so many unsheltered
homeless people, in public places. “There's no
question that we have serious concerns over
the increased numbers of individuals on the
streets,” said Tamara Door, President of the
Downtown Denver Partnership. 20 "I want to
get them off of our Main Street, and the 16th
Street Mall is our Main Street," said Denver
Councilman Charlie Brown, as Denver’s 2012
camping ban was first being considered. "We
have to stand up for our businesses
downtown and our women and children who
are afraid to go downtown. Are we supposed
to just give in?" 21

As a response to such concerns with the
growing public concentration of unsheltered
– National Law Center on
homeless people, an increasing number of
Homelessness and Poverty, No Safe
Place (2013).
counterproductive new anti-homeless laws,
banning everything from public sleeping to
standing quietly on a sidewalk with a
container for coins. Hundreds of cities have passed laws punishing the survival activities of
people living without homes. There are laws banning peaceful loitering, sleeping or sitting
in public places, or even “area restrictions” banning repeat offenders (e.g., someone with
multiple public panhandling tickets) from passing through downtown areas altogether.
There is even a growing body of law prohibiting people from giving homeless people survival
items such as a blanket, or from sharing food with homeless people without a license (see
Figure 1). 22
Quite simply, local officials are admitting that there are inadequate affordable housing
options and not enough shelter beds in any major city, and that thousands of people have no
choice but to live on the streets. Nevertheless, “many cities have chosen to criminally punish
people living on the street for doing what any human being must do to survive.”23

In 2013, The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty surveyed 187 cities to
assess “the number and type of municipal codes that criminalize the life-sustaining
behaviors of homeless people.” The results of that survey (see Table 2) show a widespread
and growing criminalization of homelessness in America. All across the country “cities are
moving toward prohibiting unavoidable, life sustaining activities” 24 of people living without
homes. Homelessness is increasingly treated as a criminal condition, and the matrix of antihomeless laws is hard to escape

Criminalizing Homelessness: A Survey of 187 American Cities
Prohibition of “Camping” in Public (i.e., sheltering oneself from the elements in public)

Prohibition of Begging or Panhandling

Prohibition of Loitering, Loafing and Vagrancy


Prohibition of Sleeping in Public

Prohibition of Sitting or Lying Down in Public

Prohibition of Sleeping in Vehicles

Prohibition of Food Sharing


Figure 1. Attempted Food-Sharing Bans Nationwide


Source: National Coalition for the Homeless26


Increase in Number of Municipalities Banning Homeless
Survival Activities: 2011-2014






Chart 4. Increasing Number of Municipalities Passing Anti-Homeless Laws

Do cities actually enforce these laws? Yes. A national survey by the Western Regional
Advocacy Project found vigorous policing of such ordinances across the nation, with the
result that 74% of homeless people replied that they did not know of any place where it was
it was safe and legal for them to sleep. Homeless respondents also reported frequent police
harassment, as seen in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2: Police Harassment of Homeless Nationwide
Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty27

In one of Colorado’s most contentious recent episodes of criminalizing homeless survival
activities, the City of Denver passed a law prohibiting homeless people from sheltering
themselves from the elements with anything more than basic clothing. The “camping ban”
prohibits individuals dwelling in public from utilizing any type of makeshift “shelter” from
the elements. A wide range of “shelter” now prohibited to homeless people: “If it’s a blanket
or cardboard or newspapers, that’s ‘shelter.’ Clothing is not,” said a member of the Denver
Police Department’s Homeless Outreach program. Homeless individuals have reported
police warnings under the law for things as simple as sitting on a towel, to avoid sitting in
the dirt.
The Denver camping ban is just one of many Colorado laws restricting homeless activities in
public places, and prohibiting a wide range of survival activities by people living without
homes across the state. A sample of those laws (and an example of a police officer enforcing
Denver’s sleep/sit ordinance) is provided on the next pages, 28 and in Appendix A.



Denver's "Sleep-Sit" Ordinance prohibits anyone from sitting or
lying down on sidewalks or streets in the downtown area. Denver
also enforces 16th Street Mall "area restrictions" against dozens
of people, whereby a judge bans a repeat offender from this
downtown area altogether. Though the city does not report how
many people have been banned, individuals include repeat
violators of the sleep/sit ordinacne and mentall ill homeless street
wanderers. "There is really something wrong about making it a
crime for someone to appear on a public sidewalk in a public
place," said ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein.

Grand Junction police commonly enforce laws against trespass and
camping without a permit by summarily destroying the tents and
belongings of homeless people. In one recent case, police officers
used knives to cut up the tents of homeless residents and slashed
their bicycyle tires. Officers explained that these actions were
"consistent with their law enforcement training." Grand Junction
officials have also worked to "reclaim" downtown parks from the
homeless by systematically locking up public bathrooms and
shutting off water fountains to limit access to clean water.

In Boulder, it is illegal for the homeless to “camp” anywhere on
public space by using “shelter” from the elements. The term
"shelter" includes any cover or protection from the elements other
than clothing. Although homeless individuals have froze to death
on Boulder streets in recent years, using anything other than
clothing for warmth is illegal. In one unique case, a homeless man
was cited under the city code for sleeping under a tree. The
policeman considered such proximity to vegetation to be
"protection from the elements other than clothing.”


Durango maintains an anti-loitering ordinance, which states: “it
shall be unlawful for any person to loiter for the purpose of
begging.” The ordinance prohibits passive and peaceful requests
for assistance and applies everywhere in the city. Under this
ordinance, the city has cited a peaceful panhandler standing on a
downtown sidewalk with a sign requesting money, and a street
busker, who simply played his guitar while his guitar case lay open
at his feet for contribution of coins. In 2014, after being pressured
by the ACLU, Durango’s Mayor choose to quit enforcing this law.

In Denver, It’s Now Illegal to Sit

“Because there would be everybody sitting around everywhere”

What is it like for homeless residents to experience the kind of police harassment they
report in our survey? Above, is a screen shoot of a video encounter between a homeless
young man and a Denver police officer. The video was shot by the filmmakers of “Scrapped,”
a video about the challenges of homelessness in America. In this video, 29 the police office is
enforcing Denver’s ordinance against sitting in downtown. The officer explains that people
just don’t want to see homeless people sitting on the streets, while they are shopping on the
16th Street Mall. See transcript below.



POLICE OFFICER: You remember last week? We talked about you sitting down? You said you’d
never been warned? You can't sit in the alleys, you can’t sit the streets, and you can't sit
on the sidewalks in Denver.
HOMELESS MAN: What’s the point of that law?
OFFICER: Because there would be… Um… Vagrancy… Everybody sitting around everywhere.
Homeless people come into downtown for businesses… Shopping… They don’t want to see

So, because people who have homes don’t want to see people who don’t have homes?

OFFICER: It has nothing to do with homelessness.

No, you just said…

OFFICER: That could be. That’s part of the law. That could be. Then take ‘em to your house. Let
‘em sit in front of your house and see how you like it. Okay, what’s your address, I’ll send
all the homeless to your house and them to sit in front of your house? I keep telling yougo get help. You don’t want to get help.
MAN: I just spent the past 3 hours trying to get f***ing help and nobody seemed to want to help
me there either. So, I don’t know… Man… Go harass someone else.







Survey Background and Methodology


In recent years, many Colorado cities have expanded their network of laws that restrict
acts of survival in public places. Durango has recently attempted to ban passive, peaceful
panhandling in all of the city. Boulder has issued thousands of tickets for people sleeping
outside in sleeping bags. In 2012, Denver gained national attention for passing its harsh
“camping ban,” a law that makes it illegal for anyone living in public to use any kind of
shelter from the elements other than their clothing. Under this law, it is illegal for homeless
people to sit on a piece of cardboard, to use a thin blanket around their shoulders, or to sit
under a tarp in the rain.


We know that these kinds of laws are expanding across Colorado and the nation. But we
know very little about how often homeless people in Colorado are ticketed, arrested or
otherwise harassed under these laws. Furthermore, there is evidence that these laws are
part of a broader pattern of discrimination and harassment against homeless people that
goes far beyond ticketing and arrests for violations of specific crimes of homelessness.
Scholars, journalists, advocates and homeless people themselves have reported a
persistent extra-judicial harassment by local authorities, such as police confiscation and
destruction of personal belongings without due process, “enforcement” of non-existent
laws, and denial of bathroom access to homeless people. Private security guards, shelter
staff, employers and landlords have all been argued to discriminate against homeless
people and treat them harshly.
However, we have little hard
evidence of the extent of this
harassment and denial of human
rights—whether by police in an
official capacity, or in an extrajudicial capacity by police or others.
This DHOL survey was designed to
address this deficit of knowledge.
The DHOL survey seeks to bring to
light the actual experiences of
homeless people in navigating
survival in public places.
percent of homeless people have
experienced citations, arrest or
Photo: University of Denver
other harassment by police for acts
of survival in public places? How many homeless people have had their belongings
confiscated and destroyed by police without due process? How often do homeless people
feel they are treated roughly or discriminated against due to their condition? How often
are basic human rights, such as bathrooms, clean water, or even custody of one’s own
children, denied to people living without a home?

Colorado Springs
Fort Collins
Grand Junction

In These Cities, Surveyors
Targeted the Following Kinds
of Sites:
Free Meals Sites
Parks, Streets, Sidewalks &
Parking Lots
Public Libraries, Shelters &
Day Centers
Resource Centers, Food
Banks, & Day Labor

Surveyors were instructed not to share their personal
analysis of any of the survey questions while they were
doing surveys. Prospective respondents were simply to
be informed that the survey related to people’s
experiences surviving in public places and in interacting
with the police, and were then asked to fill out the survey.
All survey respondents were instructed not fill the survey
out again if they had already filled it out before. 30
Throughout the summer and fall of 2014, trained
surveyors fanned out to ten different cities across the
state to recruit respondents.
Survey sampling
methodology was a mixture of cluster and convenience
sampling. Cluster respondents were selected from
strategically chosen sites (such as core downtown areas,
shelters, service-providers and other public spaces
frequented by the homeless), so as to insure maximum
representativeness of the homeless population which
lives in public spaces. At each of the cluster sample sites,
surveyors collected responses from a convenience
sampling of all respondents who were present at the time
and willing to take the survey. Some of the key cluster
sampling sites are provided to the left, though other sites
were also utilized.
In the end, 441 different people with recent experiences
of homelessness were surveyed. Once surveys were
completed by DHOL, the de-identified survey data were
delivered to Dr. Tony Robinson, Associate Professor of
Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver,
who quality-checked data-input, completed the data
analysis and worked with the community coalition and
graduate student Allison Sickels to complete this final


Selected “Cluster Sampling”
Cities and Sites for the Survey

To explore these questions, in 2014 Denver Homeless Out
Loud and partner organizations designed and conducted
a survey to collect the experiences of Colorado’s homeless
community. A 23 question survey was designed through
a series of community meetings. Training sessions were
held with surveyors to discuss survey administration, so
as to best insure the survey would be administered in a
professional, respectful and unbiased way.


Survey Demographics
The survey was administered to 441 homeless respondents, who were diverse and
representative of the Colorado homeless population. As seen in the following tables, the
demographic breakdown of these diverse respondents roughly matches the survey results
from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative’s (MDHI) 2014 homeless count. The diversity
of DHOL survey respondents, and their general match to the widely utilized MDHI
numbers, suggests that the DHOL survey reached a broad and representative sample
Colorado’s homeless population.


Table 3. Race/Ethnicity of DHOL Survey Respondents vs. MDHI Respondents


DHOL Survey

MDHI 2014 Point in Time







Native American



Table 4. Demographics of DHOL Survey Respondents vs. MDHI Respondents

Survey Demographics


Age Below 18
Age 18-24
Age 25-49
Age Over 50
Had a Job Recently

DHOL Survey

MDHI 2012 Point in Time

51% (in last 6 mos)

67% (Aged 25-54)
19% (Over age 54)
30% (in last month)

Survey Limitations and Possibilities
There are limitations to this survey as a scientific instrument. For example, the convenience
sample methodology means that the sampled population is not perfectly representative of the
region’s homeless population. But as discussed earlier in this methodology section, this kind
of convenience sampling is common in social science survey research, especially among
people experiencing homelessness, a very difficult population to enroll in a perfectly random
survey. In any case, the broad mix of survey sites, the large size of the survey sample (441
respondents), and the general match of demographics with the Denver area Point-In-Time
survey, suggest that this survey connected with a representative range of homeless people in
the region.

The problem of inaccurate memories of course is endemic to all survey research and cannot
be avoided. As for the wording of several questions focused on “harassment,” it is certainly
true that respondents’ understanding of harassment may not match the legal definition of
“harassment.” Nevertheless, it remains critically important to document the personal
experiences of those who know these realities first hand. This survey tells us what homeless
people themselves have to say about life on the streets. Taking their experiences and personal
interactions seriously is essential because they shed light on how people without homes
experience their interactions with police and others.


This survey asked people about their record of citations and arrests, and about their
experiences with police harassment and other forms of harassment. There may also be a
concern that people who are homeless might inaccurately remember their experiences with
police, or might have a personal definition of what it means to be “harassed” that does not
match the legal definition.

Too often, people in positions of power speak for and about people living without homes—
offering platitudes about how harsh laws against sitting down or prohibiting the use of a
blanket on a cold night are actually good for homeless people. For example, Denver City
Councilman Chris Nevitt defended the Denver Camping ban by claiming that too many
homeless people need the help of detox to stay sober, or need the help of social service
agencies, but yet they often refuse to accept that help. Persistent police contact is needed to
force these people to move off the streets, Nevitt argued. “Those are the people right now
where we really don’t have the tools available to push them into the arms of help,” Nevitt
claimed. “So there is a little bit of stick here, but sometimes a little bit of stick is necessary to
get people to accept the carrot.”31
In the face of comments like this, it is time we hear from homeless individuals themselves.
Just what is it like to face that stick?


Homeless Experiences with Police


Denver is a national leader in aggressive policing of people without homes. Denver
received national attention as one of the harshest cities in the country, following the 2012
passage of a ban on “unauthorized camping” –making it illegal for homeless people to sleep,
sit for extended periods, or store their belongings anywhere outdoors in Denver, if they
use any form of protection other than their clothing (e.g., a blanket, a newspaper sheet, or
a piece of cardboard to sit upon). Denver’s camping ban even attracted the attention of the
national U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which concluded that bans on public
camping are cruel and counterproductive, and urged cities like Denver to rethink their
But the Denver Camping ban is just one of many anti-homeless laws on the books across
Colorado. Other laws include wide-ranging restrictions the time, place and manner of
panhandling, laws forbidding sleeping and sitting on sidewalks, and park curfew rules.
Colorado cities are also at the leading edge of cities that are pioneering the use of “area
restrictions” to ban certain people from visiting or moving through certain areas of the city—
such as the downtown area of Colorado Springs or the high-profile 16th Street Mall area of
Denver. Bans are due to repeat crimes like shoplifting and assault, but also due to crimes
such as violating park curfews, trespass, panhandling, and sleeping in public—which are
violations commonly committed by homeless people living in public areas. To more fully
patrol downtown areas for such offenses, Denver city leaders have recently dedicated about
$2 million for new downtown law enforcement patrols, including hiring 10 new officers for
the downtown area. 32
Colorado officials are committed to actively enforcing the growing matrix of anti-homeless
laws. Boulder issues hundreds of tickets for camping ban violations. Raids and closures of
homeless encampments are common in Fort Collins and Grand Junction. The day after
Denver’s “camping ban” passed, the Denver Post reported that “it will give police the tools to
move out homeless people, who over the past few years have irritated downtown merchants
and tourists.” 33 Before the ban, Mayor Hancock noted that “we didn’t have the authority to
move them along,” 34 but he predicted that things would change after the camping ban.


As a result of this growing matrix of anti-homeless laws, a previous survey of 512 homeless
respondents by Denver Homeless Out Loud revealed that contact with police is a way of life
for homeless residents. In that survey, 62% of respondents stated they had been approached
by police at least once in the preceding six months, and most of those people were contacted
several times. 35

Chart 5.Frequency of Police Contact with Homeless People

In the last six months, how many times
have you been contacted by the police?
Asked of all those--62%--who had been contacted by police at least once



One Time
2-5 Times


6-10 times
More than 10 Times

This survey data aligns with other evidence that homeless residents are frequently
contacted, ticketed and even arrested by Denver police for crimes of homelessness, such as
violating the “Sleep-Sit” ordinance (which makes it a crime for people to sleep or sit in public
in non-designated areas). Reporting on targeted policing of many “quality of life” crimes in
the downtown area, a recent report by The Denver Post revealed 1,603 arrests on the 16 th
Street Mall in 2014--about five arrests every day. Many of those arrests were for serious
crimes like burglary or assault, but hundreds were for panhandling, curfew violations, and
trespass (such as sleeping in a business owner’s alcove). 36
City-wide, data from the
DHOL Homeless Survey Results
Denver County Court’s
Information Technology
36% of Respondents ARRESTED for Crime of Homelessness
Department show that
70% of Respondents TICKETED for Crime of Homelessness
11,274 tickets were issued
90% of Respondents Report Police HARASSMENT
to people with “homeless”
or “transient” listed as
their address between 2010 and 2012—a ticketing rate that is double the rate for nonhomeless Denver residents. More than 25% of those tickets were for one of three common
crimes of homelessness (panhandling, curfew, or sleeping/sitting in public), and many
others were for crimes such as being on the roadway median, erecting a tent, or trespassing
on business property).37 Chart 2 provides ticketing data on five common crimes of
homelessness, from 2010-2013.




Chart 6. Five Common Crimes of Homelessness: Tickets by Denver Police (2010-12)

Five Common Crimes of Homelessness:
Tickets by Denver Police (2010-2012)





Pedestrian on

Erecting Tent

Sleep/Sit Violation


Park Curfew

There is, of course, a robust debate on the reason and need for such anti-homeless laws.
Proponents of the laws commonly argue that such laws are necessary to enforce standards
of civility in public areas, and to reduce crime by nipping disorder in the bud through what
is known as “broken windows policing,” which targets small violations like panhandling to
avoid having an area slip into broader disrepair ant attracting more crime. Proponents also
argue that such laws are productive, since they force homeless people off the streets and into
supportive shelters and services, which could help them improve their personal situation.
Critics of such laws argue that they are driven by unjustified fear and discrimination against
people without homes, by a callous and immature desire to hide the impoverished from
public sight, and by selfish concerns with maintaining a well-polished business climate so as
to maximize tourist visits, shopping, and business profits. Critics also point out that such
laws are especially cruel because they make survival activities illegal (such as sleeping or
sheltering in public), even while officials admit that there are not enough affordable housing
units or shelter beds for all homeless people to ever get off the street on any given night.
Many organizations with a history of working with the homeless report that police not only
aggressively enforce anti-homeless laws, but also have a pattern of harassing and “moving
along” people without homes—even without reference to a specific law.


This particular critique raises the question of whether the civil and human rights of homeless
people are protected in our society. One does not lose a right to move through public space
simply because one is poor—as it is an undeniable need for every person (even those without
homes) to sit and rest at times, to sleep each day, to shelter oneself from the elements, and
to have access to water and bathrooms. If a matrix of laws, policies and practices in Colorado
makes it difficult for people without a home to carry out such activities, then the result is

essentially the criminalization of the very existence of a human being, violating their human
rights to exist in public space, and putting them in a position of constant conflict with local

The DHOL survey provides some troubling answers to these questions. When 441 Colorado
homeless individuals were surveyed about their own experiences with police, they reported
a persistent feeling of harassment. Of all homeless respondents, 90% report they have been
“harassed” by the police in various ways. 36% report being cited/ticketed for crimes of
homelessness (panhandling, curfew violation, trespass, sleeping/sitting in public), and 34%
report an arrest for such “crimes.” Charts 7-10 show the self-reported experience of Colorado
residents of harassment, ticketing and arrest for a variety of crimes associated with homelessness.

Charts 7-10. Percent of Homeless Respondents Harassed, Cited or Arrested

Harrassed, Cited or Arrested: All Homeless Respondents


But are such violations of human and civil rights occurring? To help answer that question,
gathering the voices and perspectives of homeless people themselves is necessary. What
do Colorado’s homeless residents have to say about how often the police contact them
regarding possible violations of Colorado’s wide-ranging anti-homeless laws? What are the
consequences of aggressive policing of homelessness for people who are living on Colorado’s
streets? Do homeless people themselves report frequent incidents of harassment from local
police, or do they feel generally treated with dignity and respect?















Experienced Harassment (w/o Ticket or Arrest)










11% 13% 13% 12% 10%







11% 10%
























The data in these charts are troubling. Ninety percent of homeless people report they have
been harassed by police, for reasons related to their homelessness. About 15% of homeless
people report being cited or arrested for the simple act of sleeping in public. About 10%
have been cited or arrested for sitting or lying down in public. Official police data show
hundreds of tickets each year for panhandling, curfew violation, and violations of sleep/sit
ordinances: a homeless ticketing rate that is twice that of the non-homeless. As the charts
below show, many of these tickets or arrests have resulted in extended jail time, due to
failure to appear in court, or inability to post bail or pay fines. These patterns raise concerns
that the basic civil and human rights of Colorado’s homeless residents are being violated.
Chart 11. Homeless Jail Time for Minor Infractions
Have You Ever Spent Time in Jail Because
You Couldn’t Pay a Fine for a Minor





Have You Ever Spent Time in Jail
Because of a Warrant or Failure to
Appear for a Minor Infraction?







Have You Ever Spent Time in Jail
Because You Couldn’t Post Bail, After
Arrest for a Minor Infraction?

Colorado’s array of anti-homeless laws present homeless residents with an impossible
situation. Police warn the homeless that they can't take shelter or sleep in public, but there
are inadequate indoor shelter alternatives. In every major Colorado city, there are far more
homeless people than there are emergency shelter beds. Furthermore, there are hardly any
shelter units at all available for certain homeless populations, such as couples without
children, the disabled, or the mentally ill. The cruel response of cities to the gap between
homeless individuals and inadequate low-income housing and shelter units has been to
illegalize and arrest those who cannot find indoor shelter.
Every night, in other words, local officials admit hundreds of people must shelter and sleet
outside, and yet these officials encode laws that made such survival acts illegal, and mobilize
persistent police pressure to enforce those laws.
For example, By Denver’s own count, Denver homelessness has increased five-fold in the last
15 years (to about 5,000 residents), while shelter beds have remained constant (about 1,800


beds).38 Responding to the shelter-need gap with increased policing of homeless people,
Denver reported more than 3,000 tickets for violations of five homeless crimes from 20122014, 39 and more than 1000 police contacts with homeless people who were warned they
were in violation of the Denver ban against using shelter against the elements. 40


In Fort Collins, the 2015 Point in Time survey counted 301 homeless people - while 438 were
counted in a summer count in 2014. However, in Fort Collins there are only 118 regular
emergency shelter beds, plus forty in the winter as over flow. So in the summer, 328
homeless people have no shelter beds available, and must survive by sleeping in public.
Regardless of this necessity, In August of 2014, Fort Collins police targeted 54 illegal
campsites of homeless people and issued 32 citations during a homeless enforcement
sweep. 41
In Boulder, the 2014 Point in Time for Boulder counted 850 homeless people. But Boulder
only has 160 shelter beds for the homeless, which are only open between the months of
October and April. Churches provide 127 overflow beds on cold winter nights as well.
Counting all these shelter units leaves roughly 550 people without indoor shelter options in
Boulder during the winter. There are no shelter beds at all in summer months.
Nevertheless, in one year alone (2013), Boulder issued 584 tickets to homeless people for
Camping, Loitering, and Trespass (which includes violating public park curfew). 42
In Colorado Springs, 2014 Point in Time survey counted 1,219 homeless people, including
269 people living entirely unsheltered, as the community only offers 20 emergency beds.
Regardless of the lack of indoor shelter options, city officers regularly cite people for
violating curfew by sleeping in a park. In October of 2012, police cited one individual for
sleeping under the covered pavilion at Antlers Park to get out of the rain, according to an
affidavit included with his ticket. The individual was confronted by four officers at the park,
about 3 minutes after it closed for the night at 11 p.m.
It is for just these reasons that the United Nations, the ACLU, the National Coalition on
Homelessness and the National Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness have all concluded
that laws that target homeless survival activities (such as laws against sleeping, sitting, or
sheltering in public) are cruel and counterproductive violations of human rights, and have
urged states to Colorado to eliminate such laws.


Public Costs of Criminalizing the Homeless

Treating homeless people as criminals for acts of survival costs taxpayers millions of
dollars,43 without any evidence that this approach actually improves the homeless situation
in Colorado. The National Alliance to End Homelessness notes that “people who are
homeless spend more time in jail or prison, which is tremendously costly to the state and
locality. Often, time served is a result of laws specifically targeting the homeless population,
including regulations against loitering, sleeping in cars, and begging.” 44

In Denver, over 3000 tickets for five common
crimes of homelessness were issued
between 2010 and 2012 (panhandling,
sitting/sleeping in public, violating curfew,
erecting “tents,” and pedestrian in the
roadway violations). The estimated
incarceration cost associated with that
subset of ticketed homeless who end up in
jail is $165,000—just for those five crimes
alone. This estimate does not include court
costs or costs of police personnel hours to
enforce such laws.

In Boulder, Colorado, estimates are that it
costs the public $1,100 every time a
homeless camping ticket is issued.

In Larimer County, there were over 3,000
transient and homeless bookings in the last
four years, and 96,475 “inmate days” for
this population. These arrests have
entailed over $8 million in public costs.


A Nashville study found that costs to
incarcerate homeless people added up to
$823,494 in 2007 alone, with an associated
$813,691 in court costs.

According to a University of Texas study of
homelessness, “each person costs the
taxpayers $14,480 per year, primarily for
overnight jail.”

“Living on the streets isn't cheap: Each chronically homeless person in Central Florida costs the
community roughly $31,000 a year... The price tag covers the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest
and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication
or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical
and psychiatric issues. In contrast, providing the chronically homeless with permanent housing and case
managers to supervise them would run about $10,000 per person per year, saving taxpayers millions of
dollars during the next decade…. The findings are part of an independent economic-impact analysis.”
"The numbers are stunning," said the [Florida] homeless commission's CEO, Andrae Bailey. "Our
community will spend nearly half a billion dollars [on the chronically homeless], and at the end of the
decade, these people will still be homeless. It doesn't make moral sense, and now we know it doesn't make
financial sense."


Is A T-Shirt Illegal Shelter?

Creative Criminalization in Boulder


The picture to the left shows two men who
were charged with violation of the Boulder
“camping ban.”
Like Denver’s ban, the
Boulder camping ban prohibits “dwelling” in
a public space by conducting activities of
daily life (like eating or sleeping) while using
“shelter” from the elements. The ordinance
defines shelter to include “without limitation,
any cover or protection from the elements
other than clothing.” The two men were
charged with violating the camping ban, because they were sleeping in a public place, with
shelter. The man with the sleeping bag (top) was found guilty of violating the ban, as a
sleeping bag is considered shelter. The man who had only covered himself with a t-shirt
around his lower legs was found not guilty, as the court found that articles of clothing do not
count as shelter.


The absurdity and meanness of a law that requires people without homes to cover
themselves only with t-shirts and not with sleeping bags while in the cold is apparent from
this picture. But this case involves several other instructive elements that teach just how far
officials are willing to go to violate the human rights of those without homes. Consider the
following facts, which are all in the court record.

The person covering himself with only a t-shirt told police that the reason he did so
was because he knew that any other form of “shelter” beyond his clothes would get
him ticketed or arrested for violating the camping ban. Nevertheless, he was ticketed.


The city prosecution argued that placing a t-shirt over one’s legs constitutes illegal
shelter. The prosecution went further and argued that the defendant used a second
form of shelter as well: the backpack pillow he was resting his head was shelter, the
city argued, since it “protected defendant's head from lying directly on the ground.


Ultimately, the court found that neither the t-shirt nor the backpack pillow
constituted “shelter.” Regarding the backpack, the court explained that world
cultures through history use pillows for aiding rest, without considering them
“shelter” from the elements, as well as the evidence of people in the parks every day
who lay their heads upon backpacks for comfort, without considering them shelter.

This Boulder case is instructive. It shows just how challenging it is to survive within the law
as a homeless person, in that covering oneself with a shirt is allowed during a cold night—
but not a sleeping bag. It also shows how creative city officials will be in driving homeless
people out of public spaces. When officials spend the time and money to argue in court that
homeless people should not be allowed to place thin shirts on their legs nor use a backpack
to keep their head off the ground, then the case for a stronger defense of the rights of
homeless people is clear.

Boulder Camping Ban in Context
In 2013, Boulder issued 584 tickets to homeless people for Camping, Loitering, and Trespass
(which includes park curfew on public property). An increasing number of people are
receiving tickets for the camping ban, but some are choosing to go to jury trial, claiming a
necessity to cover themselves from the cold, or to sleep in a park, since there are not enough
affordable housing alternatives in Boulder. In 2007 there were 4 jury trials for illegal
camping in Boulder but by 2011, there were 49 jury trials for illegal camping. Many of those
who go to trial are found “not guilty” as juries conclude that the “necessity” of using some
sort of protection from the elements trumps the violation of the camping ban. Boulder
camping ban defense lawyers state that 78% of the camping ban cases they defended have
resulted in a “not guilty’ verdict.

Though national studies show that homeless people are far less likely to commit violent
crimes than people living in homes (and far more likely to be the victim of violent crime
themselves), too many local officials maintain a deep fear and disdain of the sight of homeless
people—a fear that drives them to sacrifice the constitutional and human rights of the most
vulnerable in their community. Consider an article published on July 1 st , 2014 in the Boulder
Daily Camera, titled “Boulder councilman, merchants warn of downtown area 'taken over' by
homeless.”45 The article reported the following details about a handful of people without
homes hanging out in a public park


In response to this increase in "campers" being found not guilty in jury trials, in February
2012, Boulder City Council passed Ordinance No. 7831, which was intended to remove jury
trials as an option for first or second offenses of illegal camping, along with other laws.
However, after passage, this ordinance was successfully challenged by the ACLU, thereby
ensuring people's right to trial by jury.

"It's a unique place to hang out," [councilman] Cowles said. "There's Boulder Creek rushing
by. This is a wonderful place and it's a place, actually, that the city's invested a fair amount
of money in. But, for the most part, people on the Hill aren't using that really neat path to
get downtown because of their fear for their safety and what goes on there."
What was making people too frightened to use this area? The article goes on to report. “At
midday Monday, about a dozen people — some with sleeping bags and large backpacks—
were sitting under trees in a grassy area off the southeast corner of Arapahoe and
Apparently, Boulder city council members, businesses, and others deem people with
backpacks and sleeping bags "frightening." In response to concerns like this, Boulder Police
began regular visits to this location and after a while those resting here in the park moved
along... Only after one officer took one of their bikes46
The confiscation of the bike matches data in our DHOL survey: 61% of survey respondents
said police have taken their belonging, and only 19% of those people report ever receiving
their belongings back.


“Moving Along” After the Ban
“We Can’t Go Anywhere Now. Not in the Alley. Not Anywhere”

In 2012, in the months after Denver passed a new “camping ban,’
which prohibited homeless people from sheltering in public
places, Denver Homeless Out Loud interviewed numerous
homeless residents about the effect of that ban on their living
situation. Here is what one homeless couple shared. Their real
names are not used.
INTERVIEWER: How has Denver’s camping ban affected you?
TOM: We got two tickets for sleeping in the alley back here. We got two tickets for
trespassing, and we had nowhere else to go.


INTERVIEWER: When the police officer approached you, what did he say?
SANDY: “You guys have been warned not to be back here. You
guys are getting tickets.”

Photo: Mr. Graves

INTERVIEWER: Had he warned you before?
SANDY: Oh yeah, he’d caught us back there before. It’s the safest place.
INTERVIEWER: And then what?
TOM: He tells us to “move along.” Just get your gear and go!
INTERVIEWER: Do they suggest a place to go?
TOM: No.
SANDY: They say, “There’s a thousand other places to sleep, just not here. Go.”
INTERVIEWER: So where do they expect you to go?
SANDY: That’s what I ask him, “Where do you want us to go?” He says,
“Anywhere but there.”
INTERVIEWER: Do they ever direct you to a shelter?


INTERVIEWER: Do they ever ask you if you want to go to a shelter?
TOM: No.

INTERVIEWER: So they don’t offer you ANY services or assistance?
TOM: No, just “go.”
INTERVIEWER: Do you mind describing the events prior to the officer approaching you?
TOM: There’s just a couple of us back there, not doing anything, just trying to sleep. We have
all our stuff nice and neat. And then the police officer just comes up and tells us we have to
go. “Here’s your trespassing tickets; just go.”
INTERVIEWER: Did anyone call and complain about you guys?
SANDY: No. I mean we’re back there all the time. And we’re clean and quiet. None of us are
drinking. TOM: Yeah, we kept a pretty clean spot, didn’t bother anybody.
INTERVIEWER: So is the place you sleep now more safe or more dangerous?

It’s definitely more dangerous. There’s people and things; these fools run around smoking
their stuff and shooting their stuff. We don’t do none of that. We’re just trying to sleep and
the police come hassle us like we were criminals.
Now it’s a more precarious situation. We can’t go anywhere now. Not in the alley, not


TOM: We found an O.K. spot- a little piece of sidewalk, on the heating grates. It’s kind of
dangerous. I mean we burn ourselves, on the fingers, toes and arms, but it’s our only spot.
It’s hot, but it’s what we got. We can’t stay on the Mall, and we have to stay dry.

INTERVIEWER: Have the police ever helped you in any way? Helped you to a shelter or
something like that?
SANDY: No. Never. Unless you call writing me tickets some kind of help, no.




Colorado’s homeless residents face difficult challenges in dealing with the network of laws
that target a wide range of activities common to homeless people—including survival
activities such as sleeping or sitting. Such laws arguably violate the human rights of
Denver’s” homeless residents, and are widely regarded as cruel and counterproductive by
most scholars, social workers and advocacy organizations working on issues of
homelessness. But even beyond these clearly encoded laws, homeless residents face
additional difficulties in navigating the range of extra-judicial harassment they commonly
experience at the hands of local police and private citizens alike.
Extra-judicial harassment is some form of “punishment” that is carried out without proper
legal process or authority. A homeless person treated roughly by a police officer, for the
purposes of “moving them along” is experiencing extra-judicial harassment. When personal
belongings are taken from homeless people by police or private security guards and not
returned to them, they are experiencing extra-judicial punishment. Homeless residents that
are treated roughly or “moved along” by private security guards who do not have the
authority to do so are expericing extra-judicial harassment.
How often do Denver’s homeless residents fact extra-judicial harassment by local police or
other authority figures in Denver? The DHOL survey asked homeless respondents their own
feelings on this question and found that nearly 75% of respondents feel they have been
subject to extra-judicial harassment by police.
Chart 12. Percent of Homeless Respondents Harassed Without Legal Reason

Do Police Ever Harass You Without a Legal Reason?




Never or
No Response

Extra-Judicial Punishment: Confiscation and Destruction of Personal Property

Though court cases have been brought against many cities for their policy of destroying the
belongings of homeless people without due process, the practice continues to be
widespread. 47 Just two years ago, Colorado Springs was threatened with lawsuit for its policy
of sponsoring police “cleanups” of homeless encampments, which included mass confiscation
and summary disposal of such things as prescription drugs, military medals, family photos
and official identification documents. Similarly, Denver has a record of conducting sweeps of
homeless encampments along places like the South Platte, and of disposing of the belongings
they confiscate in those sweeps. Reporting on a 2014 sweep, the Denver Post, wrote that
““Homeless people camping along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek who left their
possessions at the sites were likely to find them gone Thursday after the city mounted a major
cleanup…It is not uncommon during sweeps of the homeless for people to lose possessions,
including medication, identification and other necessities when the area is cleared.” 48


A very specific form of extra-judicial punishment often experienced by homeless people is the
confiscation and destruction of their belongings, without due process of law. Homeless
residents in Denver complain frequently that their belongings are often left behind on the
street if they are arrested, and subsequently these belongings disappear. There are many
allegations of police confiscating belongings when a person is arrested, and yet those
belongings are never returned when the homeless arrestee is released.

A recent Federal Appeals court case in Cincinatti demonstrates the kind of situation faced by homeless
people in America every day. As reported by AELE Monthly Law Journal, “The evidence in the case showed
that a homeless man and his wife were living under a viaduct in Cincinnati, and that when the couple
returned to their living space they found a crew from the county taking away their property. When they
asked for the return of their property, the work crew supervisor allegedly told him that ‘I'm not allowed
to; we have been given orders to clear out under all the bridges.’ They made an effort, subsequently, to
locate their property. Although the city's sanitation division told them that their property would be "held
for 30 days," they were not told where it was located, and a worker with a homeless assistance
organization was told by the sheriff's office that "the stuff from the homeless sites is thrown away."
Upon further investigation, it was found that the city regularly treated the property of homeless people
differently than it did other property. When sweeps of homeless belongings occurred, they typically were
all placed together in trash bags and bins and disposed of all together, without any logging of information
to track the items. City sanitation workers “distinguished the cleanup of homeless property from the
department's general policy for dealing with personal property found at other locations around the city,
stating that any unattended property found elsewhere is taken back to the station, logged, and held as
found property, so that someone can prove that the property is theirs, it is returned to them.”


The DHOL survey provides further evidence that this extra-judicial pattern of confiscating
homeless people’s belongings without due process of law is commonplace in Denver. More
than 60% of all survey respondents report that police have taken their belongings before;
15% report that their belongings are taken “frequently.”
Chart 13. Have Police Ever Taken Your Belongings?

Have Police or City Employees
Ever Taken Your Belongings?







Though hundreds of survey respondents reported that police had taken their belongings—
usually on more than one occasion—only a very small percentage (18%) of respondents
ever received their belongings back. Even those who did receive their belongings back did
not always get them back from police. When asked how they received their belongings
back, only 52% said said the police returned them. 11% said a friend picked them up (e.g.,
from off the street where police left them after detaining someone), and 17% said their
belongings were found in dumpsters.




YES: 19%
NO: 81%


Sixty-one percent of survey respondents have had their belongings taken by police, and only
19% of those people every received their belongings back, from police, friends or dumpsters.
When the 81% of respondents who didn’t receive their belongings back were asked why they
didn’t get them back, they reported the following results.
Chart 14. If You Didn’t Receive Belongings Back, Why Not?

If You Didn't Receive Your Belongings Back, Why Not?






Private Security and the Homeless: Policing and Harassment Patterns
A good deal of extra-judicial harassment stems from private security guards and safety
officers. Uniformed private security officers are an increasing part of the policing and
surveillance in Colorado.
Homeless individuals everywhere in the state are likely to
encounter building guards and private security officials patrolling their assigned area, and so
it is important to understand the nature of those interactions between the homeless and
private security forces. One of the most notable of these private security forces, especially
regarding the potential for interaction with homeless residents, is the Ambassador program
of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s (DDP) Business Improvement District. The DDP is a
private organization made up of downtown business owners, which plays a special role in
managing, programming and maintaining safety and cleanliness on the 16 th Street Mall. The
DDP has long advocated for increased policing of homelessness in the downtown area. For
example, the DDP was a lead organization pushing for an aggressive panhandling ordinance
in Denver, in pushing to ban all panhandling in a “convention center” zone downtown, and in
pushing for the recent Denver camping ban, which illegalizes a homeless person sheltering
themselves from the elements in any way.



For years, the DDP has maintained an “Ambassador” program consisting of uniformed
downtown ambassadors patrolling up and down the 16 th street mall, helping answer the
questions of visitors, and also keeping a close eye on what they perceive as unwanted or
disorderly behavior. The DDP’s annual report notes that the group spent $682,922 on these
kind of private “safety” enhancing activities on the 16 th Street Mall in 2014. As the report
claims: “One of the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District’s (BID). core
priorities is to maintain a clean and safe Downtown environment…The BID manages the
Downtown Ambassador Program, which features a team of individuals who serve as a safe
and welcoming presence on the 16th Street Mall and key surrounding areas. The
Ambassadors provide additional support to the Denver Police Department by focusing on
‘quality of life’ crimes, such as aggressive panhandling and graffiti, while also serving as
liaisons between struggling citizens and social service agencies.” 49
How do homeless people experience their interactions with private security and safety
forces like these? Though the DHOL survey did not ask about any specific private security
force, such as the downtown Ambassadors, it did ask homeless respondents if they had ever
been unduly harassed by private security, or witnessed it happening to others. A full 78%
of respondents said they had witnessed private security guards “hassling” another
homeless person. Along the same lines, 72% of respondents report that they personally had
been treated roughly, verbally or physically, by someone other than police. It is unclear
how many of these “treated roughly” incidents involved private security guards, but we
know from other research that extra-judicial harassment and rough treatment of the
homeless by private security is very common. 50

Los Angeles has lost five court cases since 1997 over its efforts to aggressively remove and destroy the
belongings of homeless people. The most recent loss came in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused
to reverse lower court rulings that prevent Los Angeles city workers from summarily removing and
destroying homeless people's property left on Skid Row sidewalks. Before the court order, city workers
and police commonly disposed of belongings left “temporarily unattended” in the street, which meant
that homeless people were having belongings confiscated when they sought social services, attended
court hearings, or while they showered or used the bathroom at shelters.
City officials argued that allowing homeless people to leave belongings on sidewalks created a health
hazard, but the courts said no evidence of a health hazard was ever presented. The court concluded
that homeless people have rights of due process, and summary disposal of their property was illegal.


Undeterred, Los Angeles City has drafted a new 2015 ordinance, allowing police to “quickly clear”
unattended property of homeless people, so as to avoid health hazards and “visual blight” in Los Angeles.
The property will supposedly be stored in facility where homeless people can retrieve their belongings
later, so the city hopes the new ordinance will pass judicial muster.

Chart 15. Rough Treatment of Homeless
Has Anyone Other than Police Ever Treated You Roughly,
Verbally or Physically, Because of Your Homelessness?






Chart 16. Private Security Harassment51



Never or
No Respose


Have You Witnessed Private Security Guards Hassling
Homeless People?


A Vancouver (Canada) study of private security interactions with homeless people found:


51% of homeless people reported 4 or more encounters with private security guards every month.


“Private security guards routinely overstep the bounds of their authority on public property. This includes
guards asking or compelling people to move along when they have no legal authority to do so.”


“Private security guards control access to space (on both public and private property) in ways that are
not in keeping with principles of equality and fairness. This includes issuing informal bans from certain
buildings, streets or neighborhoods.”


“Private security guards use force illegally…Guards are using force and threats of violence against
homeless and other marginalized people on a routine basis.”


Living Homeless in Colorado
“I’ve Been Kicked in My Sleep; Kicked in My Face”

As part of our survey process, interviewers sat down with
homeless individuals and talked about their experiences.
This interview involved a homeless man, who has struggled
with being homeless in Denver. He describes his experiences
with his current job situation, interactions with the police
and other people. His real name is not used.
INTERVIEWER When you sit/ lay down to rest, do you get

Photo: Alex Vosifov


bothered by the police? If so, please describe your experiences.
BOB: Here lately, with the camping ban, you always run into the police. But there are also
other people, like pranksters. I had a cinder block thrown at me one night, and it hit me in
the back of my head.
INTERVIEWER: Is your health affected by the lack of sleep and rest? Do you think that is the

result of the police forcing you to leave?
BOB: The lack of rest is real terrible. You're constantly on the move, because I'm told to get
up and move on. You kind of get accustomed to it.
INTERVIEWER: Have you tried applying for a job? Please describe your experience.

BOB: I’ve been working through “temp services”. If I find a job that I could do and that I am
really good at, I do the best that I can. Like, doing the job correctly and being on time. I do
this so that I could get hired. But I haven't been very successful in getting hired. The last time
I was working, I was moving furniture. By the time I got off, I had to come back to the shelter,
try to get a shower, clean my work clothes and then go back and start all over again.
Sometimes my start times would be at 4:30 AM to 5 AM. It was easier not to try. It made me
want to give up. There were some jobs that I wasn’t done until 8 or 9 o'clock at night.
Therefore, I wouldn't be able to get a shelter, I would have to sleep outside. I would have to
find somewhere else to get cleaned up, freshened up and come to the door presentable. I just
couldn't keep it up. It got harder and harder each day.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have access to hygiene facilities?


BOB: No, only shelters- no public places. The only public place that I have been able to use the
bathroom, like a human being is a public library. That's it. Nowhere else. But to use the
bathroom anywhere else, other than inside, you get ticketed. It's a long walk if you got to use
the bathroom real bad and you have to try 10 different doors; it isn't easy.

INTERVIEWER: How do people treat you in general?

BOB: They look down on you, like you aren’t trying hard enough. It's day to day, I never know
who I'm going to run into you.
INTERVIEWER: How about law enforcement??

BOB: Law-enforcement treats me pretty rough. I've had things happen to me that I've never
reported. I've been kicked in my sleep, kicked in the face. I fell asleep not too far away from
Coors Field, in a dumpster area. I thought I was off the beaten path, but then a security guard
and a police man found me. I knew it was them because there was a big flashlight in my face.
I stood up and saw them. They gave me a few choice of words,” get out of here, you f-ing bum,
if I catch you here again, you’re going to get it worse.” This was at 2:30 in the morning, now I
have to find somewhere else to deal with the rest of my day. I will never forget that one, it was
a thunderstorm that night and that's the only cover I had. But hey, they didn't kill me. I walked
away from that.

BOB: Those places are like a no-no. You are turned straight away when they see you. I avoid
them all together now. They don't want me there anyways. Even though I have money. Once
you walk inside they treat me different. Even though I clean myself up and shower.
INTERVIEWER: Since you have been homeless, have police contacted you, cited you, arrested
you or otherwise interacted with you for any of the following kinds of reasons: sleeping or
sitting in public, panhandling, having any kind of shelter in public areas, having a pet, praying
or meditating in public, trespass or jaywalking, curfew violations, public drinking or
urination, etc.


INTERVIEWER: How about places like a private business? How do they treat you?

BOB: Yes, to almost all of those. I've been placed in the car and threatened to be taken down,
but then they usually let me go. One time, I was sitting at a bus stop, my feet were tired, I got
off from a landscaping job and I couldn't walk any further, I've been up all night. I was sitting
at a bus stop off at Blake Street. A police officer approached me, and told me to, “move on and
that I couldn't camp here.” I said,” I'm not camping.” He said,” are you waiting on the bus?” I
said, “No, I'm not waiting on the bus. My feet are hurting. I've been wearing these boots all
night, I've worked all day.” My feet were throbbing. He said, “You do what I tell you to do.”
He made me get up and move on. I guess I was moving too slow. He said okay,” let me see
some ID.” I took out my ID. He went on saying,” this is for my safety and yours.” He put me in
handcuffs. All the crowd was watching. The other cop was going through my backpack,
throwing stuff on the ground. He turned it upside down and dumped it out, when they got
done, he told me, “to pick up this crap and get out.” I had all my fresh laundered clothes in
there and my water. I picked up my stuff and moved on.
This stuff goes on everyday.


Homeless Arrest Turns Deadly
“The Police Thought He Had No Value…He Was a Nothing”


The criminalization of homelessness can be deadly dangerous business. The matrix of laws
restricting the ability of people without homes to live in public places inevitably means that
harassments, citations and arrests of homeless people will occur frequently. In Denver, in
fact, homeless people are arrested fully twice more often than the population as a whole.
The dehumanizing foundations of many of these laws reflect and foster a spirit of disdain
and even cruelty towards people without homes. This disdain is probably why 72% of
homeless people report they have been treated “roughly” in their interactions with police
and others in Colorado. In the immediately preceding interview, a homeless resident
reports being roughed up and kicked in the face by police. Things can become even worse
than this kind of rough treatment, as seen in this case of Marvin Booker, a homeless street
preacher picked up by Denver police on the 16th Street Mall for failing to appear in court on
a drug paraphernalia charge. He never made it out of police custody alive. 52


Marvin Booker Died in Police Custody in July of 2010

Marvin Booker was a frail, 5 foot tall, 135 pound homeless street preacher, when he died in
custody on July, 2010, in a holding cell under a pile of four Denver police officers. When
Booker had turned away from an officer, without permission, to retrieve his shoes that were
laying behind him in the holding cell, four police officers quickly threw him to the floor,
handcuffed him, sat on him for four minutes, and applied a carotid chokehold until Booker
passed out. As Booker struggled for his final breathes under the officers’ weight, another
officer left to retrieve a taser and then tasered Booker for eight seconds. Even after Booker
went limp and lay on the floor with no pulse, officers did not summon medical attention but
simply drug him to a cell and left him dead. The attack was caught on video and led the 10 th
Circuit of Appeals to judge against the city for the “wildly excessive” use of force and
“deliberate indifference” of its officers, leading to the largest wrongful death settlement in
Denver history.

In an appearance on Democracy Now! to speak on the case, Colorado Independent reporter
Susan Greene reflected on how Denver officials seemed to think that a homeless street
preacher had no value, and were unable to see that Booker actually was a man from a rich
community heritage. Here’s how Greene remembers it.53

“Another thing is, there was an assumption by
Marvin Booker and a portrayal of him after his
death that he was just another homeless guy who
was causing trouble in the jail. And what they
didn’t calculate is that that "’just homeless guy’ had
a rich history in the South, in his hometown in
Memphis, where he became really well known, not
just in Memphis, but throughout the South and
really the nation, for having memorized Martin
Luther King’s speeches. His family was close to
Martin Luther King… he was the guy who would go into churches and go into civil rights events
and give the speeches that King wouldn’t give, right? He has two brothers who have
congregations, who chose to be pastors. They followed in the footsteps of their father. He chose
a different path. He wanted to preach on the street like, he said, Jesus did. He wasn’t a saint. He
had some drug problems. The fact that he was homeless was disturbing to his family. They tried
in many ways to help him. And he was really adamant that’s the life he wanted to live.
So, when he died, again, I think—and I was here when he died, and I know what the city’s
response to it was, and I heard the city’s response at trial, which is, ‘this guy had no value, he was
a nothing, right?’ And they sat three weeks in trial and just denigrated him and smeared his life.
When I say they picked the wrong man, they didn’t know that this man had a community of
people in this city, nationally, in the faith community, who were behind him.”


The Marvin Booker case can be seen a case of excessive use of police force that had little to
do with Booker’s homelessness. But it is important to consider the frequency of police
arrests of homeless people (100% higher than arrests of non-homeless), which exposes
people without homes to more risk of such aggressive force. Furthermore, homeless people
themselves report that aggressive treatment by police is common: in our DHOL survey, 72%
report they have been treated roughly. Finally, the approach of the City of Denver during
the subsequent trial for Booker’s wrongful death is telling of how homeless people are too
often viewed by local officials. During this trial, the city’s strategy was to portray Booker as
nothing more than a homeless criminal, a person with no community and no loved ones, a
mentally addled nobody that caused his own death by living on the streets. In response, the
African American faith community in Denver came together in media events and in trial
testimony to tell the story of Booker as a human being, an old civil rights warrior, and
beloved family member whose condition of homelessness did not mean he had no human
rights. The fact that the City of Denver fought this argument and had to lose in two courtroom
trials before they would consider any offer to Booker’s family shows the depth of
criminalization and dehumanization in the official response to homelessness.


Knifing Tents & Slashing Tires
Grand Junction Police Search Homeless Camp


Grand Junction maintains about 255 shelter beds
in the winter, and less in the summer, which city
officials admit leave at least 513 homeless people
without access to shelter beds. Many of these
people have no option but to live in tents in brushy
areas along the edges of town. In May of 2010, and
consistent with a broader city campaign of
“reclaiming” public spaces from the homeless,
three Grand Junction police officers entered one
homeless camp of multiple tents, in search of
someone suspected to have stolen copper wire. Their actions that day reveal some of the
extra-judicial tactics commonly used by police in their interactions with the homeless. 54
Upon entering the camp site (and without a warrant), the three officers used knives to cut
open several unoccupied tents, and explained later that cutting up tents was a common
police tactic at transient camps. When asked by press why the officers didn’t simply unzip
the tents at the doorway, officers replied that going in the door of the tent would expose
officers to a “fatal funnel,” with potential for injury or death. In addition to booby traps with
feces and urine, there are barbs and fish hooks you have to worry about,” one officer noted.
Officers smashed food that was left on tables (Oreo cookies and bananas) in what they
described as a “poke” with their batons. The officers also “disabled” two bicycles by slashing
the tires. The officers claimed that since the encampment was on public space, the homeless
residents had no rights of privacy or property. Thus no warrant was necessary to cut open
and search the tents, and bicycles could be considered “unclaimed property” which could be
destroyed by police.
After these incidents came to light, the Grand Junction chief of police fired these officers for
their improper police practices. However, the officers retained lawyers and sued the city for
damages, claiming these tactics were all consistent with the police training they had
received, and had been used commonly by other Grand Junction officers.


What we do know is that the homeless respondents to this report’s survey claim that such
tactics of police are common. Most homeless respondents cite frequent, harsh treatment by
police. More than 80% say their belongings have been summarily confiscated by police, and
most never receive these belongings back. For those living without homes, constitutional
and human rights are simply not secured. This Grand Junction story shows that privacy and
property rights, the right to be free of search and seizure without due process, and the right
to be considered innocent until proven guilty are all granted and taken away at the whim of
local authorities and police.

Violations of Basic Human Rights
This report has so far examined the ways in which local laws create an inhumane system in
which the movement of homeless people through public space is seen as a “visual blight” to
be illegalized, and in which a wide range of survival activities that people must engage in to
live (such as sleeping or sheltering from the elements) is made illegal for homeless people.
The report has also explored the range of extra-judicial harassment and punishment
commonly imposed on Denver’s homeless residents, in violation of the law. But beyond
these concerns, there is also strong evidence that homeless people are denied even the most
basic of human rights—water, bathrooms, work, children--with troubling frequency.

However, the reality is that people living without homes are commonly denied these rights.
For example, largely as a reaction to the growing homelessness challenge, public bathrooms
are increasingly scarce, and some studies have called it a public health crisis. A DHOL survey
of public restrooms that could be termed accessible to the homeless identified just 25
restrooms in central Denver, and none of them are open 24/7, and not all have running
water—hardly an adequate number for the several thousand downtown homeless, as well
as all others who put demands on these bathrooms. Many of these have special requirements
such as being on the shelter's list, and many are porta-potties which are less than clean. None
of these are bathrooms with water owned and maintained by the city. Similarly, in Grand
Junction, city officials have systematically shut down public bathrooms and turned off water
fountains in an effort to “reclaim” downtown parks from the homeless. 55


Most people believe that all human beings are entitled to fundamental human rights,
regardless of their income level. The right to water, the right to use a bathroom, and the
right to sleep, for example, would probably win broad support in our community. Many of
these basic rights are mentioned in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that
all people in the world have a right to water, to shelter, to a job, to raise a family and to access
vial public services like bathrooms (among many other important rights).

Another common violation of a basic human rights is the way aggressive policing of the
homeless results in lack of sleep. Laws prohibiting sleeping or sitting in public places,
coupled with laws prohibiting use of “shelter,” sleeping in one’s car, or violating park
curfews, predictably expose homeless people to persistent police harassment whenever they
try to rest or sleep. In a 2013 survey of more than 500 Denver homeless residents following
the passage of Denver’s 2012 “camping ban,” respondent reported far more contact with
police than before the ban, and a subsequent loss of sleep.



60% report that they get little sleep as they frequently are being “moved along.” One
interviewed person described his situation: “I am one of the "working" homeless. I get
regular work through standby (a temporary job service.) But I don't make enough to
afford my own place. So I sleep outside. But for two days in a row I was too tired to go
to work because the cop wouldn't leave me alone. Every time I’d go to a new spot, this
cop would follow me and tell me, ‘move along. You can't stay here.’ I was trying to sleep
in alleyways, out of the way of the yuppies. I even went to the river but he followed me
there. I didn't get a ticket, but I didn't sleep either, and I lost two days’ pay as a result”


After the Denver Camping Ban passed, 53% of homeless survey respondents said
they felt less safe with their new sleeping situation. “Nowhere is safe to sleep anymore,
said one respondent. “So I don’t sleep. I keep moving. I’m more fatigued. Less


50% say their lack of safe sleep is leading to a worse quality of life. “I’m in a bad
mental state for lack of sleep,” noted one survey respondent. “I’m more negative. I
worry about anyone approaching. I sleep less. It’s stressful. It’s hard to sleep when you
don’t feel safe where you’re at. I have physical fatigue from lack of sleep.” This selfreporting matches our medical knowledge that lack of sleep is profoundly dangerous
to health and decision-making capacity. As described by Dr. Mercola, “The enactment
of laws against sleeping and resting in public spaces increases the chances of one
seeking emergency medical help due unhealthy bodily changes caused by a major lack
of sleep. It can also affect one's behavior in making rational choices which can result in
an increase in drug addiction and crime.”

In addition to difficulties in finding a bathroom or getting some sleep, homeless people face
difficulties securing a job (as employers commonly are biased against hiring a person
without the stability and appearance of someone living in a home), in finding clean potable
water, and in maintaining custody of their children. For example, in Philadelphia, a woman
unable to make her rent payments became homeless, moved into a local tent city, and lost
custody of her children for not being able to provide an adequate living situation. 56 A
Scottsdale homeless woman had her children placed in protective custody for leaving them
in a car when she went for a job interview. 57 The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative reports
that a common fear of homeless families is that they will lose custody of their children if
they are caught without a roof over their heads.


DHOL survey results (see next page) confirm the ongoing challenges of securing these rights
for homeless residents in Denver. When becoming homeless means that a person faces a
daily struggle to find a bathroom, cannot always find safe and clean water, is not allowed to
find a night’s sleep, and faces loss of their children—it is fair to say that homelessness entails
a violation of fundamental human rights.

DHOL Survey of Denver Homeless:
UN Declaration of
Human Rights

“Have you ever been denied access to any of the following because
you were homeless?”
Denied Access to

Denied Access to a
"Everyone has the right
to a standard of living
adequate for the
health and well-being
of himself."





(Article 25)

“Everyone has the right
to work…without any
(Article 23)

“Men and Women of
full age..have the right
to marry and to found
a family…the family is
the natural and
fundamental group
unit of society and is
entitled to protection
by the society and the




Denied Employment?

Denied Custody of Your Children?


(Article 16)

Chart 17. Violations of Basic Rights of Homeless People

Rights Violations in Homeless Shelters
Often, advocates of anti-homeless laws defend those laws by arguing that homeless people
need to be encouraged to leave the streets and enter into homeless shelters, where they
can receive services, while leaving the streets free of the public display of poverty. In
defending Denver’s ban on sheltering oneself in public, Mayor Hancock argued that “this
ordinance is needed to help address the challenge of people sleeping outdoors in the
elements. It is simply inhumane to allow anyone to be exposed to the dangers this
poses…Removing the option to camp on our streets will…provide the impetus to better
connect people to services such as shelter, food and clothing.”58
Such an argument ignores two important facts. First, there are simply not enough shelters
beds available for all of the region’s peoples without homes. Tom Leuhrs of the St. Francis
Center shelter estimates that at least 300 people every night in Denver can’t find shelter
indoors, 59 and local officials have long admitted that Denver has an unaffordable housing
market and inadequate shelter units. In a 2012 survey of 512 homeless respondents,
Denver Homeless Out Loud found that 73% had been turned away from shelters due to
lack of appropriate space—33% had been turned away frequently. 60


Chart 18. Homeless Respondents’ Record of Being Turned Away from Shelters


Since June 0f 2012,
Have You Been Turned Away from Shelter Due to Lack of Spaces?



Never Turned
Away from

Have been
Turned Away
from Shelters





Turned Away
1-2 Times


It is an impossible situation, and a violation of basic human rights, to admit that there are
no indoor shelter options for hundreds of people every night, but to nevertheless make it
illegal for those people to sit, lie down, sleep or find shelter in public areas. Furthermore,
shelters themselves are not always the best location for dignified respect of the civil and
human rights of homeless people. For example, the DHOL survey asked respondents if
they ever felt their privacy was violated while at a shelter or service provider. A range of
common violations of privacy were reported by many respondents.

Chart 19. Privacy Violations at Shelters and Service Providers

Has Your Privacy Been Violated While at a Shelter or Service




Staff Shared Private
Information with Potential

Had Medical Records Shared Had Your Residence at Shelter
with Others
Revealed to Others

Chart 20. Have You Been Treated With Respect by Service Providers?
Have You Been Treated with Respect by Persons or
Organizations Providing Shelter or Other Services?



Staff Shared Personal
Information With Others



Almost half of respondents say they are “never” or only “sometimes” treated with respect
by service-providers. What this data suggests is that the existence of an emergency shelter
system is hardly a justification for the kinds of persistent harassment homeless people face
at the hands of police and private security. The number of shelter beds is inadequate to
meet the need in the Denver area, and shelters themselves are commonly experienced as
harsh and rights-violating environments by homeless residents. There is a bit of cruelty
involved in denying homeless people even a right to sit or rest in public areas, while urging
those people to seek a non-existent and often undignified indoor shelter bed instead.


Homelessness as a Criminal Condition
“They just put you up in a jail. That’s the resolution to all their problems.”

As part of our survey process, we sat down with several
homeless residents and talked about their experiences.
This interview involved a homeless woman who has
spent years unsheltered on the streets of Denver and
Boulder. She describes her experiences with the laws that
criminalize survival acts in public space. Her real name is not


INTERVIEWER: Talk about your general experience on the streets.
PATTY: When I first became homeless, I didn't know what to expect. I had my kids with me,
there were options as far as you know, staying in a motel, having your own room, things like
that. But getting into shelters were a little more difficult with my kids, then without. There
weren't many places we could go. Then I sent my kids home and started camping out more.
That was my first couple years of being homeless. After that I started sleeping more on
streets, because it was easier, you didn't have to deal with all the crap in the shelters and all
the crazy people you run into. I moved up to Boulder because it was quieter and wasn't as
crazy, the cops weren't as nuts.
INTERVIEWER: Let’s jump into some of these laws that criminalize certain acts in public
space. Have you been harassed or ticketed or arrested for sleeping, and can you talk about
some of those scenarios?
PATTY: When I first started sleeping on the streets, Denver wasn't really that big of a deal,
you could snuggle up in a cubbyhole, and the cops would walk right past you, they wouldn't
bother you. In Boulder, they already had the law in place: “No Urban Camping.” So, my first
camping ticket was in Boulder.


That was nuts, I didn't expect that, getting kicked awake and all that crap. I've been ticketed,
I don't know how many times, I've lost count. I've been to jail over it. You know, they expect
you to pay a $100 fine when you can't even pay for a place, that's enough for a motel room.
Don't you think, if I had the money, I would be in a motel room? They just put you up in their
jail, that's a resolution to all their problems.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me what happened in Denver when the Denver Camping Ban passed,
how did that affect your situation?
PATTY: Well, I think mostly being an activist and the cops knowing who I was, was a big part
of that. Getting a camping ticket, because I was sitting in a park on a blanket was stupid. The
ticket was dismissed, because they didn't put it in right. That's right after the ban passed.
INTERVIEWER: How did that help or not help your situation? In terms of spending time in
jail vs. being out?
PATTY: You can't do anything when you’re arrested all the time. I had doctor appointments,
I have to see several doctors, I have to see a specialist as well, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t
get to see my attorney for my Social Security. I couldn’t fax paperwork . I couldn’t go get the
resources that I needed. You can't call to the people you need to. It's a hot mess.

Its nuts to be woken up all night, move here, move there, do this- it's ridiculous. You have all
your things with you, you’re cold, you're tired, you need rest and you just don't get it. The
Judge in Boulder says, “It’s okay to go to the park during the day and sleep with a blanket
covering you, but sorry you can't sleep at night.” And we still get harassed by the cops for
having a blanket covering you, sleeping in the park during the day.


You know, America is supposed to be a free country, but you don't have the right to sleep. It
makes me wonder. I've asked the cops, “do you want me to become a crack-head and stay up
all night? I don't know about you, but I like my sleep, I don't like being crazy in the head,
because I haven't rested enough.”





The Colorado “Right to Rest” Act


Responding to the Human Rights Crisis:
CO’s “Right to Rest” Act & Beyond


The National Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness has called anti-homeless laws “cruel
and counterproductive,” for the simple fact that these laws are morally suspect in that they
target the most vulnerable members of our community, they are legally fraught as they
violate constitutional and human rights, and they are pragmatically counter-productive,
costing localities substantial funds to police and incarcerate homeless people.
A more humane, legally defensible and practical approach is called for. Recognizing this fact,
there are growing movements to encode rights for homeless people into state codes (such as
a right to sit in public). Some states have responded by passing “Homeless Bills of Rights”
(such as Rhode Island, Connecticut and Illinois), and pressure is growing for other
jurisdictions to join the movement. The Western Regional Advocacy Project, a network of
homeless advocacy groups, is pushing to pass a “Right to Rest Act” in Oregon, California and
Colorado this year. “The act, the first of its kind, would protect all residents’ right to rest,
allowing people to occupy and use public spaces without fear of discrimination.” 61 In
Oregon, Chip Shields of the state senate was the first to sponsor the Right to Rest Act, stating:
“people who are homeless not only struggle with life on the street, they struggle with the
indignity of being treated like criminals because they have nowhere to eat, sit or sleep. This
bill is about making sure everyone is treated humanely under the law.” 62
Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) is the local Colorado WRAP member leading the
campaign here in Colorado. In the Colorado General Assembly, several state legislators are
working with DHOL and other organizations to pass a “Right to Rest” Act. The bill was
originally sponsored by Representatives Salazar and Melton and by Senator Kefalas and cosponsored by eight other representatives. The bill expresses the profound concern of many
that criminalizing homelessness is immoral and ineffective public policy, a modern form of
economic segregation that must be challenged.
"The Colorado Right to Rest” Act: Legislative Summary


“Establishes basic rights for persons experiencing
homelessness, including, but not limited to, the right to use
and move freely in public spaces without discrimination, to rest
in public spaces without discrimination, to eat or accept food in
any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a
legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of
privacy of one's property.”

Former Colorado Representative Robert Bowen
Speaks About His Experience with Homelessness and in Favor of a Right to Rest
“We live in the richest land on earth. We’re in

a very prosperous city, but tonight thousands
of people don’t know where their next meal is
going to come from, or where they are going to
sleep. I think that any current or former
elected official who isn’t trying to do
something to solve the problem.

“I’ll never forget the day the sheriff came and evicted me from my home. All I had was a car.
But at least I had a car. So the first night, I pulled into a commercial district and parked,
trying to get some sleep. No sooner had I dozed off when there was a tap on the window. A
police officer tapped with his billy club and said “you can’t stay here; you can’t sleep here. If
you don’t move, I’ll arrest you for vagrancy and impound your car.” So I spent about a week
spending whack a mole with the cops. Trying to stay one step ahead of them, going from one
place to another.


“Twenty-seven years ago, I was on the top of
the world. I had a good business. I had season
tickets to the Broncos. I was in my third term
in this building. Life couldn’t be better. A year later, I was out of office. I lose the election.
There was a recession. I lost my business, and I lost all my assets. So I went out to California
to start over, but then the recession hit California.

“Finally I got a friend to give me some money for gas, and I went out into the desert, where I
spent a few weeks sleeping in rest areas, where at least I could sleep without being harassed.
I didn’t tell anyone about my problem because there’s such a stigma to failure in this country,
such a stigma to poverty. I was a former representative, and I couldn’t bear to tell even my
own family that I was homeless. But I was lucky. I had a friend who sensed it and said “we
need our house remodeled. Would you come out and we’ll pay you to do it.” I did and I
eventually pulled myself back up.
“But I know what it’s like to have that feeling of you can’t even sleep in your own vehicle
without fear of going to jail. I know what it’s like to not know where your next meal is coming
from. I know what it’s like to have people look at you and judge you. There’s a million
reasons why people are homeless. Every single homeless person has a different reason.
Some of its disease. Some of its addiction. Some of it is bad luck. Some of it is total despair.
But one thing that’s true about every single person is that they’re human beings. If you
believe in god, they are all children of god. They are all worthy of their dignity. They are
worthy of our respect. They are worthy of love. They are worthy not to be judged by
anybody. And everyone has a right to rest.”


Legislative Declaration






(2) A person experiencing homelessness is permitted to use public space in the
same manner as any other person experiencing homelessness is permitted to
use public space in the same manner as any other person without
discrimination based on housing status. Every person in the state shall have
the following basic human and civil rights, which may be exercised without
being subject to criminal or civil sanctions or harassment by law
enforcement, public or private security personnel, or district agents:
(f) The right to use and move freely in public spaces without discrimination
or time limitations that discriminate based on housing status;


Section 24-4.5-104. Protected rights of persons experiencing homelessness

(g) The right to rest in public spaces and protect oneself from the elements
in a non-obstructive manner;

(h) The right to eat, share, accept, or give food in any public space where
food is not prohibited;

(i) The right to occupy a motor vehicle, provided that the vehicle is legally
parked on public property or parked on private property with the
permission of the property owner; and
(j) The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy on one’s personal
property in public spaces to the same extent as personal property in a
private residence or other private place.
* Note: The preceding language is from the Colorado Right to Rest Act, as originally
introduced. As the Bill moves through the legislative process, amendments will
naturally change some of the language and provisions of the Bill.


Beyond the Right to Rest Act
The Colorado Right to Rest Act is critically important to address the
immediate human rights crisis facing thousands of Colorado residents living
without homes today. But simply establishing a right for impoverished
people without alternatives to survive in public places will not adequately
address the scale of the crisis. Other important steps must be taken to
mitigate homelessness and thereby improve the quality of life in Colorado,
both for homeless residents and for the broader community in which they
live. Two vital steps are the provision of 24 hour hygiene facilities and the
development of substantial new permanent low-income housing units.


24 Hour Hygiene Facilities
Declaring a right for homeless people to survive in public spaces will not
address their basic needs to access bathrooms, clean water, and basic hygiene
facilities. Across the state, the numbers of 24 hour public bathrooms have
declined, and access to clean water is increasingly difficult for people living
without homes. Cities like Grand Junction have been known to strategically
lock public bathrooms and shut off water fountains in parks where people
without homes congregate.
Such policies violate the human rights of
impoverished homeless people and put public health at risk by fostering
unsanitary practices and increasing risk of disease.
A local and state-wide commitment to providing 24 hygiene facilities where
people without options could use the bathroom and access clean water is a
pressing need in the state.

Expanding Low-Income Housing Option
The most effective solution to homelessness is more low-income housing.
Very few homeless people would choose to live on the street, in public places,
if independent, low-income housing options were available. Denver Housing
Out Loud joins the plethora of housing advocates state-wide who have
consistently called on Colorado officials to develope substantial new revenue
sources to address Colorado’s significant low-income housing gap.

Across the state, there are a raft of reports describing the many options for
expanding low-income housing financing streams; what is missing is not
policy ideas, but rather political will. Effective policy solutions include such
things as:

Consideration of new fees, such as a new development such as a real estate
transfer tax, or an “impact fee” which could be assessed on a per square foot of
new development basis and which would offset the increased affordable housing
and human services generated by new commercial development across the state.


Reform of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) processes across the state so that a
dedicated percentage of all future TIF-funding streams is reserved for a lowincome housing revenue streams.


Passage of local or state-wide tax or bond proposals to establish affordable
housing trust funds.

These are not unusual proposals, nor would they make Colorado less competitive with other
states in terms of attracting business and development. In fact, each of these policy ideas have
been adopted by multiple states and dozens of cities across the nation and Colorado is unusual
in its dearth of revenue streams to support low-income housing. For example, almost 500
cities and 131 counties across the United States—and many entire states--currently have
affordable housing trust funds, funded through such things as general obligation government
bonds, voter approved taxes, impact fees and tax increment financing housing set-asides.
Instead of Colorado officials passing all manner of legislation banning survival in public places
in Denver, they should show similar energy in developing housing/service funding streams
similar to other American jurisdictions.
Together, these recommendations would substantially improve the quality of life for
Colorado’s homeless residents, while also moving Colorado down the road to building a
community where people didn’t have to live in public places.



Colorado clearly needs new hygiene facilities where people can attend to their fundamental
human needs. The state also deserves a deeper official commitment to expanding low-income
housing options.
Finally, in the immediate here and now, treating the homeless as criminals for their acts of
public survival must stop.
Colorado should have the conviction to honor the human rights of all residents, and take the
ethical and pragmatic step of recognizing that everyone, rich or poor, has a right to rest.





Appendices & Endnotes


Appendix A: CO Anti-Homeless Laws
Sample Colorado Laws Restricting Survival in Public Spaces (List not comprehensive)

66-54 Prohibited activities
52-62 Loitering
62-40.5 No Trespass orders for city owned property
62-57 Urination and defecation in public
94-116 Loitering in the Colfax Corridor, sitting in easements
94-117 Lying down or sleeping in the business district
94-119 Loitering in Colfax Corridor, aggressive begging


10-3-10 Unlawful Conduct on Public Property
8-5-10 Parking, Storage and Use
10-5-50 Loitering (for purpose of begging)
10-4-9 Trespassing
10-3-10 Unlawful Conduct on Public Property
8-5-10 Parking, Storage and Use
10-5-50 Loitering (for purpose of begging)
11-5-70 Hours of Public Use
10-4-9 Trespassing
10-3-10 Unlawful Conduct on Public Property
8-5-10 Parking, Storage and Use
10-5-50 Loitering (for purpose of begging)
11-5-70 Hours of Public Use
10-4-9 Trespassing


17-57 (e) Trespassing
17-24 Loitering  17-43 Aggressive begging
17-181 Camping on public property restricted
17-122 Staying in Medians Prohibited
17-44 Misuse of public waters
17-127 Panhandling



18-173 Accessory Dwelling Unit
18-569 Use of Vehicle as Building
38-271 Urinating or defecating in public
38-207 Blocking streets or sidewalks; solicitation on streets

Wheat Ridge


17-33 Camping
16-106 Loitering
16-46 Trespassing
17-31 Begging, soliciting
16-113 Sales and solicitation in certain places prohibited
16-114 Aggressive solicitation prohibited







Fort Collins


Appendix B:
DHOL Reflects On Bill of Rights Campaign
Reflections on the Colorado Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign

The criminalization of existing and surviving in public spaces is not just reflected in Denver's
Camping Ban, but in a number of Denver laws, and in many other laws at play in cities and towns all
across Colorado. Some of us came to know this through reading Colorado municipal laws online, and
some of us came to know this by police harassing us or our friends for simply being in public space.
Either way it become clear to us that ending this cycle of dehumanization, move alongs, tickets, and
arrests inflicted on homeless people across Colorado could not be achieved just by overturning one
law in one city, but must be done with statewide legislation that legalizes being human in public
space. Just as discriminatory laws of the past that used to push certain people out of public spaces,
such as Jim Crow laws and anti-Okie laws, were ultimately overturned by higher government, so
today discriminatory laws used to push homeless and poor people out of public spaces must be
overturned by States.
While personal experience and legal research are grounds for understanding there is a serious
problem, it does not necessarily show the breadth or specific nature of the problem. In order to
ensure the legislation we create is based on the experiences and priorities of a large number of
homeless people across Colorado, we developed a survey, building on the survey tool used by the
Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) in California and Oregon. Our survey concerned police
interventions against survival acts in public space, as well as additional questions about access to
shelter, housing, and other resources. On May 18th, 2014 we held a surveyor training and kickoff
event for the Colorado Homeless People's Rights Survey. Over the next five months we surveyed almost
500 people who are homeless in ten different Colorado cities.


By Denver Homeless Out Loud

The findings of this survey are disturbing to say the least. As you see laid out in detail in this report,
the majority of people we spoke with are being treated as criminals just for trying to survive on the
streets. At the same time large numbers of people are unable to access shelter, and are denied housing
and other needed resources.
After entering all the survey data and working with graduate students to analyze the findings, we
proceeded to draw out the issues which rose to the top. We marked all the findings which 50% or
more of survey respondents had been negatively impacted by. We marked all the questions which
concerned a basic act of survival which all humans must do. In the end we included all issues which
the majority of people are being criminalized for and which also are basic acts for survival, as a
priority in our bill. We also chose to include the right to sleep in your vehicle, even though only 24%
of respondents reported being criminalized for this, because it is such an obvious survival activity
that must be protected. We also chose to include the right to eat, share, and accept free food, even
though only 23% reported being criminalized for this, because again it is such a basic survival need
to eat and because there is a fast spreading increase in laws prohibiting food sharing.


Through this process we came to agreement on the following five rights of the Homeless Bill of Rights
Campaign: (1) the Right to move freely, rest, sleep, and protect oneself from the elements in public
spaces without time-limitation that discriminates based on housing status; (2) the Right to occupy a
legally parked vehicle; (3) the Right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of your property in public
space; (4) the Right to eat, share, accept, or give food in any public space in which having food is not
prohibited; and *(5) the Right to 24-hour access to hygiene facilities. (*This will be for a separate bill
at a later time.) These rights are almost identical to the core rights which WRAP came to through the
same process of outreach to homeless people in California and Oregon.
Throughout this whole process we have collaborated with WRAP and as we kicked off our Homeless
Bill of Rights Campaign we began working more closely with WRAP. There are now four states-California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado--working together on this campaign.


When it came time to turn the core rights of our campaign into legal bill language, we benefitted
greatly from all the work WRAP had already done, together with ACLU lawyers. Since the core rights
of our bill are almost the same as those of California and Oregon's bill, we were able to work with
WRAP and the ACLU to draft a Colorado version of our bill using WRAP's draft. While the larger
Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign also includes future bills to address access to hygiene facilities and
legal defense, the first bill we are pushing is the Right to Rest Act, which focuses on legalizing survival
acts in public space.
We began seeking out a sponsor for the Right to Rest Act a couple months before the January deadline.
We met with a number of Senators and Representatives who were supportive of the cause but had
too many bills, or could not commit at the time for one reason or another. Finally, two days before
the deadline, we met Representative Joe Salazar who right away said, "yes, of course I will sponsor
this bill!" Senator John Kefalas had already committed to sponsoring in the Senate if we found a lead
in the House, and Representative Milton shortly joined Representative Salazar as Sponsor in the
Just after Martin Luther King Jr Day, WRAP members across three States and eight cities joined in a
Day of Action in support of the Right to Rest Act. We held our "Right to Rest Festival" on February
2nd at the State Capital. Roughly 300 people showed up, 35 people spoke, including 25 homeless
people with experiences of criminalization, and 3 State legislators. People who are homeless came all
the way from Fort Collins, Boulder, and surrounding suburbs to support this bill.


We are committed to press on with the struggle to pass the Right to Rest Act here in Colorado to
ensure that all Coloradans’ right to rest is protected. As with any vast, widespread, and deeply root
violation of basic human decency, it is going to take a movement to make things right. This movement
must be driven by the realities of what is happening day in and day out to poor and homeless people
simply existing in public spaces. We continue to gather surveys and hold community forums with
people experiencing homelessness to ensure this bill and campaign are true to the realities and
priorities of people without housing across the State. We are publicizing these realities through this
report, presentations, handouts, and a video documenting the experiences of over 20 homeless
people in Colorado. We continue to meet with our State legislators to educate them on the need for
this bill and urge them to vote in favor. We continue to work with WRAP to build this movement to
end the criminalization of homelessness, not just here in Colorado but all across the west.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" - Gandhi

Appendix C: Right to Rest Act
Frequently Asked Questions
The human indignity of homelessness impacts roughly 17,000 Coloradans and their communities.
Ending homelessness nationwide should be a top priority of policy makers and, until this is achieved,
the criminalization of people simply because they have no home must be immediately halted. The
Right to Rest Act of 2015 (HB 15-1284) will protect people who are homeless from citations and
imprisonment resulting from resting, having belongings, or sharing food in public. Citations and jail
time only worsen the condition of people without homes and limit their opportunities to escape
homelessness. By acknowledging how municipal laws that criminalize homelessness actually deepen
poverty, we believe that passage of this legislation will encourage more humane and effective
responses to homelessness.

Response: The prevalence of homelessness in the 21st century’s economic and political system has
not only led to violations of internationally recognized human rights; it also threatens the public
health of entire communities. The Right to Rest Act of 2015 seeks to protect the basic human rights
of people to rest by outlawing municipal laws that criminalize homelessness and the survival act of
resting and sharing food in public. This change will shift focus to addressing the true root causes of
homelessness and its consequences on families, communities, and society.


Question: What is the overall problem this legislation is trying to solve?

Question: I live in a home rule city. What gives the state the right to decide how we deal with
homelessness in our city?
Response: Homelessness, and the criminalization thereof, are of statewide concern. Local laws
against resting, sleeping and eating in public space are currently being enforced in cities across
Colorado. These laws violate the State Constitution by preventing people from “defending their lives”
and “obtaining their safety” by carrying out acts of survival in public space. Other practices, such as
seizing, searching, destroying and disposing of homeless people’s belongings without probable cause,
violate people’s constitutionally protected right to possess and protect their property. These
violations commonly occur during “sweeps” of sites where homeless people sleep. Because local
jurisdictions are increasingly passing and enforcing such unconstitutional ordinances and rules, a
state law is needed to prevent such occurrences.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors found that the approach of criminalizing homelessness hurts local
governments, does not solve homelessness, and can make the homelessness crisis worse. The federal
government, through the Interagency Council on Homelessness, has said the same thing.
Further, homelessness is not isolated to a few cities or to large cities, but occurs throughout Colorado.
Also, people without homes move from place to place throughout our state. Therefore, an effective,
statewide response is needed. Just as local discriminatory laws of the past, such as Jim Crow or


Wetback laws, were overturned at the state and federal level by those who recognized the immorality
of such laws, so today the state of Colorado must take legal action to overturn laws that discriminate
against homeless people and to protect their right to rest in public space.

Question: Isn’t housing the solution to homelessness? If we just focus on housing we won’t
need to worry about homeless people being criminalized.
Response: We agree that the solution to homelessness is permanent housing, and that our entire
society must work together to ensure that truly affordable housing is available to all who need it. But
such a solution is not being implemented today, nor unfortunately does it seem to be “just around the
corner.” Meanwhile, people who lack housing and must conduct their survival activities in public
space are being treated as criminals for this activity. Such criminalization is unconstitutional,
immoral, and counterproductive. A state law is needed to protect people’s right to exist in public
space, even while we work to create the public will to provide affordable housing opportunities to all
who need it. There is every reason why we must work to correct both wrongs--the criminalization of
homelessness and the lack of affordable housing for all--at the same time.


Question: The people who sleep outside do so by choice. If you make it legal, won’t more and
more people do it?
Response: Many people who sleep outside would move indoors if “choices” that were appropriate
for their needs, like independent housing, were available to them. Many people are afraid of sleeping
outside and choose to sleep in shelters whenever possible. Others sleep outside rather than in a
shelter because there are not nearly enough shelter spaces for all who need them, and shelter is not
a permanent solution for homeless. Many people with mental health conditions are unable to tolerate
shelters. There’s a lack of shelter spaces for couples, LGBTQ individuals, families, young people,
people with disabilities, and people with pets. Many are fearful of the bugs, violence, theft, and
unsanitary conditions which they often associate with shelters. Many who have jobs cannot stay at
shelters because shelters have strict check in times that conflict with their work schedules.
As Denver Homeless Out Loud’s 2013 report on the effects of the Urban Camping Ban revealed,
making outdoor “camping” illegal did not stop people from doing it. It just pushed them away from
safer, more accessible, better lit areas into more hidden, less lit and therefore more dangerous areas-which also made it harder for outreach workers to engage with them.
The way to reduce the number of people who are sleeping and living outside is not to criminalize
their efforts to exist in public space, but rather to make appropriate shelters, day centers, services,
and--especially--housing available to those who need and want it. One reason we do not have
adequate housing and services to meet the needs of homeless Coloradans is because of the high
priority municipalities have placed on law enforcement activities against homeless people. If the
money spent on the enforcement of anti-homeless laws (including policing, court processing, and
incarceration) were instead spent on permanent affordable housing, we could end homelessness.


Question: But aren’t most homeless people dirty? Don’t they make our downtown areas look
gross and push visitors away?
Response: The way to keep homeless people from looking dirty is not by criminalizing their
existence, but by providing appropriate shelters, restrooms, showers, storage facilities, day centers,

and, especially, housing. Homeless people do not want to be dirty. While there may be shoppers and
visitors who are discouraged from coming downtown by the sight of homeless people, we believe that
a majority of housed people would not want homeless people’s rights to be violated, but instead
would want positive steps to be taken to ease their burden and end their homelessness. Most camping
bans are passed by the vote of a few individuals, pressured by businesses. They are generally not
passed by the vote of the people, a majority of whom would likely oppose such laws.
This bill does not give people the right to leave trash about, urinate in public, aggressively panhandle,
block a doorway or passageway, or engage in destructive activities. It simply protects the right of all
people to move about freely, rest, sleep, protect themselves from the elements, eat and share food,
and engage in other basic acts of human survival.

Response: There is no statistical evidence to support stereotypes about a relationship between
homelessness and serious crime, like assaults or burglary. The idea that homeless people are
criminals is a myth that has been perpetuated to make others afraid of homeless people and willing
to support draconian measures against them--such as passing bans on sleeping outside and spending
millions of dollars on policing their activities and “moving them along”--money that should be spent
on needed services and on combatting real crime. The real problem is crime and violence experienced
by homeless people--especially the many elders, youth, women, and disabled among the community-whose need to survive outside makes them so vulnerable to violence.
The National Coalition for the Homeless’ 2013 report, Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes and
Violence Committed Against Homeless People, documented 1,437 acts of violence against homeless
people committed by housed perpetrators between 1999 and 2013--including murders, rapes,
beatings and mutilations. By criminalizing homelessness instead of dealing with its root causes, our
local governments are forcing homeless people into more hidden, and less secure, areas--where the
risk of being attacked is increased. Criminalizing homelessness, instead of providing appropriate
solutions, sends the public the message that “homeless lives don’t matter”--they’re fair game.


Question: Don’t we need laws to keep homeless people from hanging out and sleeping
downtown and in neighborhoods in order to keep crime down?

Question: If we can’t have park curfew laws, camping bans, and “no loitering” ordinances,
won’t homeless people take over the parks, causing other people to stay away?
Response: Please remember that housed people have houses in which to sleep, rest and socialize.
They also, to varying degrees, have a greater ability to go to coffee shops, restaurants, movies, plays
and clubs to socialize and be entertained. Unhoused people, on the other hand, have shelters (if they
can get in and tolerate the environment), a few overcrowded day centers in which they are segregated
from everyone else, and public spaces, such as libraries, downtown areas, and parks. If homeless
people tend to dominate certain parks, it is only because they have nowhere else to go and have a
perfect right to be there. Anyone, housed or unhoused, who violates any law or legitimate rule that
does not discriminate based on homeless status, is and should be subject to being removed and/or
prosecuted. There is no reason why other people should “stay away” from public spaces in which
homeless people congregate. If public officials and the media didn’t perpetuate the myth of homeless
people as criminals, others would probably not be so scared to be near them, and people would come
to better know, understand and appreciate each other.


Question: Why would I want to help people who are lazy, act like criminals, and refuse to help
themselves? Shouldn’t they just get a job so they can pay for their own housing?
Response: This question is based on untrue stereotypes and false assumptions. Regarding “getting a
job”--According to the 2014 Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Point in Time survey, 30.8% of
respondents said they or a family member had worked in the last 30 days. Nationally, the number
most frequently reported is 44%. As to why don’t work regularly, it is difficult to find or keep a job
while living in a shelter or under a bridge, with no place to store your belongings and no way to afford
transportation. Further difficulties are the unlikeliness of being hired once a homeless person answers
the obligatory questions about their current residence, their credit, or theri criminal background-even though offenses may have happened long?
Regarding the expectation that homeless people should “pay for their own housing”--Many full-time
workers are unable to do this. In Denver, for example, if a person worked full-time making minimum
wage at an entry level job, they’d clear $1280 a month after taxes. If they rented a 1 bedroom
apartment at the average Denver rental rate of $1244, they would be left with $36 for everything else.


Question: But won’t citing homeless people at least motivate them to move out of a certain
neighborhood, or maybe move indoors?
Response: No. As local police precincts race to respond to complaints about homeless people in their
areas, most homeless people have nowhere else to go, so they are forced to remain in public space. As
citations for “quality of life” activities add up, so do fines that are impossible to pay. When homeless
people are arrested and even incarcerated just for being too poor to pay for these tickets, they acquire
a criminal record that creates barriers to housing and employment. The criminalization of
homelessness not only violates homeless people’s human rights, but also perpetuates and deepens
their poverty by creating legal barriers to exiting homelessness.
Question: Why would I want people sleeping in their cars and trucks to park outside of my
Response: What makes someone sleeping in their vehicle by your home--because they have nowhere
else TO sleep--more threatening to you and the neighborhood than someone sleeping in their home
next door? Get to know the people. You will likely find that there is nothing to be worried about, and
even that they make the neighborhood safer by keeping additional eyes on the street to protect your
house from burglary and by deterring other crime.
Question: If we feed homeless people in public, won’t they just leave their trash everywhere?
Response: This is a common misconception. Many people, not just homeless people, leave their trash
everywhere. If there were more trash cans available, then there would be less trash everywhere.
Furthermore, organizations that distribute free food bring their own trash receptacles, often leaving
public areas cleaner.


Question: What do you mean by the right to share food? Don’t we feed homeless people enough
Response: It’s not a matter of feeding them “enough.” There are laws across the country criminalizing

the act of simply sharing food with anybody in public. This Act will prevent laws like that from being
passed in Colorado.
In many cases food-sharing programs are the only occasion in which some homeless individuals will
have access to healthy, safe food. The 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, conducted by the
United States Conferences of Mayors, found that:

83% (19 of 25) of cities surveyed in 2013 reported an increase in the number of
emergency food requests from the previous year;


91% reported an increase in persons requesting food assistance for the first time;


80% reported an increase in frequency of visits to food pantries and emergency
kitchens each month.

The need for food assistance is growing in our communities and we must ensure that those who wish
to share food with those in need can continue to do so in public space.

Response: No, they cannot block doorways. The bill states clearly that people can “rest in public
spaces and protect oneself from the elements, in a non-obstructive manner.” Current laws prohibiting
obstruction of a passageway, and preventing people from sleeping in private spaces such as a private
doorway, would still be in effect.
Question: Won’t this bill prevent law enforcement from searching criminals for drugs and
weapons because of the expectation of privacy of one’s property?
Response: This bill does not change law enforcement’s right to search someone and/or their
property when they have probable cause of suspecting the person has illegal drugs or weapons.
However, as is protected in the US Constitution, people’s right to a reasonable expectation of privacy
of their property will be respected when one is in public space, just as it is in private space.


Question: So if this law passes homeless people can just start sleeping in my doorway?

Question: Will passage of this bill mean that city crews will no longer be able to clean up public
Response: No. Laws against littering and obstructing a right-of-way would still be in place, so cleanup
crews could still do their job. It just means that cleanup crews will not be allowed to simply throw
away possessions of value to people--like backpacks, sleeping bags, and blankets when those
possessions are on public property and are not obstructing a right-of-way.
Question: Won’t this bill prevent law enforcement from dealing with safety issues or pursuing
criminals because cops will be afraid of being sued?
Response: This bill does not prevent law enforcement from pursuing criminals. It prevents law
enforcement from pursuing Homeless people simply for living in public space. If somebody is
breaking a law, then law enforcement has every right to pursue them. Law enforcement will no longer
have to pursue people who are performing basic acts of survival like sleeping or resting.


Question: How will cities deal with people’s bad behavior in public places if this bill passes?
Response: The Right to Rest Act would not affect localities’ ability to enforce laws against such things
as assault, being drunk in public, harassment, or trespassing. It would only end the practice of
arresting or citing people for the simple acts of survival such as resting or sharing food in public.

Question: Doesn’t the Right to Rest Act just incentivize homelessness?


Response: NO. The Right to Rest act merely makes survival legal. Homelessness is not a condition
that most people choose. In most Colorado cities, there are far more homeless people than there are
shelter beds, and the public housing waiting lists are long and have many restrictions. Even when
shelter beds are available, they often fail to meet the needs of families to stay together, of women,
elderly or victims of trauma, people with disabilities, and people with pets. The data show that
homelessness is caused by the lack of affordable housing. When the federal government stopped
funding new public housing--spending dropped from over $16 billion per year in 1978 to nothing
since 1996--homelessness tripled or quadrupled in every major U.S. city and has risen steadily since.
Ironically, the criminalization of homelessness actually perpetuates homelessness by creating legal
barriers to accessing housing and employment. If you want homeless people off the street, stop
criminalizing them.


** The MDHI homeless survey did not break down age ranges in the same way as the DHOL survey did. Therefore,
the demographic comparisons don’t perfectly match, in the age
categories. But the overlap between age ranges is significant enough to conclude that the DHOL demographics
were substantially similar to the MDHI demographics.
***LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

For source on Denver Police ticketing practices, see Candace Edington, The Struggle for Space: An Analysis of
Public Policy in Denver. Masters Thesis in Political Science, University of Colorado Denver. 2013. For source on
Larimer County Policing costs, see Jason Pohl, “Jailed Transients Costing Taxpayers Millions.” The Coloradoan.
October 6, 2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI), Homelessness in the Denver Metropolitan Area: 2012 Homeless Point in
Time Survey (Denver: MDHI, 2012).
For sources on low-income housing data, see: “Why are People Homeless?” National Coalition for the Homeless,
July 2009. Accessed on web on March 25, 2015 at:; “Need for
New Low-Income Housing Urgent as New Report Points to Bleak Market for Low-Income Renters.” National LowIncome Housing Coalition. June 6, 2011. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:; Bureau of Labor Statistics data reported on by Huffington Post, “Bottom 20% of Americans
Spent Double Thein Income in 2011,” September 26, 2012. Accessed March 25, 2015 at:; Western Regional Advocacy Project, Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing
Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness and Policy Failures. San Francisco, CA: 2006. Accessed March 25, 2015 at:
Western Regional Advocacy Project, Ibid.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to
Congress. Accessed March 25, 2015 at:
Center for Housing Policy, Paycheck to Paycheck (Center for Housing Policy, Washington D.C., 2009). Accessed
March 3, 2013 at:
Housing Colorado, “2014 Colorado Profile.” Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
Housing Colorado, “Affordable Housing in Colorado.” Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
BBC Research and Consulting, 2006 Denver Housing Market Analysis (Denver: BBC), 9. Accessed on March 3,
2013 at
Colorado Department of Local Affairs: Division of Housing, Housing Need and Rent Burden in Colorado and Its
Metropolitan Areas (Denver: Colorado DOLA). Accessed on March 5, 2012 at
David Crary and Lisa Leff, “Report: Child Homelessness Reaches All-Time High.” The Denver Post, November 17,
2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
Sources: Denver Homeless Planning Group, “A Blueprint for Addressing Homelessness in Denver,” 2003; Metro
Denver Homeless Initiatives Annual Point in Time Surveys; Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, 2010 “Continuum of
Care” NOFA Application.






Norm Suchar and Annar Blasco, Denver Shelter Assessment (Washington D.C.: National Alliance to End
Homelessless, 2012), 1. Accessed on March 10, 2013 at
Electra Draper, “New Federal Housing Stats Contradict Experience on Denver’s Streets.” The Denver Post,
December 14, 2011. Accessed on March 15, 2013 at
Electra Draper, “Capitol Hill Churches Partner to Shelter Denver Homeless Women.” The Denver Post, November
25, 2012. Accessed on March 15, 2013 at See also MDHI, 2012, op. cit.
Sam Levin, “Will Denver’s Homeless Women be Left in the Cold?” Westword, December 6, 2012. Accessed on
March 15, 2013 at
John Parvensky, “Guest Commentary: Homeless Aren’t Criminals.” The Denver Post. April 5, 2012. Accessed on
March 15 at
Allison Greenstein, “Psyciatric Patient in Colorado: Help Me.” The Denver Post, March 17, 2013. Accessed
March 18, 2013 at
See endnote 12.
Jeremy Meyer, “Denver May Pursue Law Cracking Down on Homeless.” The Denver Post, October 20, 2011.
Accessed on March 18, 2013 at
Joanna Rothkopf, “It is Now Illegal to Distribute Food to Homeless People in 21 Cities.” Salon, October 23,
2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:; Luke
Turf, “16th Street Mall Mishandle.” Westword. May 24, 2007. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S.
Cities, p. 7. 2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:!userfiles/No%20Safe%20Place.pdf.
National Coalition for the Homeless, “Share No More,” 2014.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S.
Cities, 2014.
Sources for information regarding anti-homeless laws in Denver, Grand Junction, Boulder and Durango are as
follows. Denver: Jennifer Brown, “Banned From 16th Street: Dozens Ordered by Court to Stay Away.” Denver
Post. February 22, 2015. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at: Grand
Junction: Paul Shockley, “Ex-Officers Defend Raid.” The Daily Sentinel. June 21, 2010. Accessed on March 25,
2015 at: See also: Durango. Paul Krieger, “ACLU in the
News: Durango Stops Enforcement of Unconstitutional Loitering Law. November 12, 2014. Accessed on March
25, 2015 at:
Find a link to the video here:
For a copy of the survey instrument, see


Denver Homeless Out Loud, with Tony Robinson. The Denver Camping Ban: A Report from the Street. April 3,
2013. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
Brown, op. cit.
Jeremy Meyer, “Protests Greet Final Passage of Denver Homeless-Camping Ban.” The Denver Post, May 15,
2012. Accessed on March 10, 2013 at
Denver Homeless Out Loud, with Tony Robinson. Op. cit.
Brown, op. cit.
Edington, op. cit.
See source 12.
Edington, op. cit.

When the authors of this report requested information from the Denver police department regarding recorded
police contacts with homeless people in the preceding two years, the department delivered a record of 1013
police contacts between 2012-2014. This database is a record of documented contacts between police and
homeless individuals who the police contacted due to possible violations of the Denver camping ban. Not
every police interaction with a homeless resident will appear in this database of documented, written-up
Count of homeless individuals and beds from the Fort Collins Point in Time Surveys; Police activity documented
in Jason Pohl, “With Recent Sweep, Homeless Issues Reach Boiling Point.” The Coloradoan. August 8, 2014.
Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
Count of homeless individuals and beds from the Boulder Point in Time Surveys; Police activity in issuing
camping ban tickets is public record information.
Sources for studies cited in text boxes are as follows. Nashville Study: Courte C.W. Voorhees, Scott R. Brown,
and Doublas D. Perkins, “The Hidden Costs of Homelessness in Nashville: A Report to the Nashville Metro
Homelessness Commission.” Center for Community Studies: Vanderbilt University. n.d.; Boulder: Heath Urie,
“Attorneys, CU Students help Homeless Fight Boulder Camping Law.” The Daily Camera. April 16, 2011.
Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:; Denver: Edington, op. cit.; Larimer
County: Pohl, op. cit.; University of Texas: National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Cost of Homelessness.”
Accessed on March 25, 2015, at:; Katie Santich,
“Cost of Homelessness in Central Florida? 31K Per Person.” The Orlando Sentinel. May 21, 2014. Accessed on
March 25, 2015 at:
National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Cost of Homelessness.” Accessed on March 25, 2015, at:
Sara Kuta and Mitchell Byers, “Boulder Councilman, merchants warn of downtown area ‘taken over’ by
homeless.” The Daily Camera. June 30, 2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
see video of the police officer taking the bike here
For information on the Cash v. Hamilton County court case in the textbook on this page, see: AELE Monthly Law
Journal: Civil Liability Law Section. Police Interaction with Homeless Persons. 2008 (8). 101. Accessed on
March 25, 2015 at:
Tom McGhee, “Denver Moves Homeless from South Platte, Cherry Creek Encampments.” The Denver Post.
September 11, 2014. Accessed on March 23, 2015 at:
Downtown Denver Partnership website.
For reporting on these Los Angeles actions described in the textbox, see:;;
Source for Vancouver study cited in textbox below is: Pivot, “Security before Justice.” 2008. Accessed on March
25, 2015 at:
For reporting on the Marvin Booker case, see Susan Green, “Excessive Force Trial Throws Spotlight on Notorious
Denver Jail.” The Colorado Independent. September 22, 2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015 at:
See Susan Greene’s Democracy Now! Interview here:
For reporting on these Grand Junction facts, see Shockley, op. cit. Accessed on March 26, 2015 at:; see also

Colorado IndyMedia, “Grand Junction’s War Against the Homeless.” The Red Pill, vol. 6, no. 10. January 8,
2008. Accessed on March 26, 2015 at:
Peter Kinoy and Pamela Yates, Poverty Outlaw. 1997.






Annie Rose-Strasser, “Homeless Mother Gets Job Interview, but Doesn’t have Childcare, Ends Up in Jail.”
ThinkProgress, March 27, 2014. Accessed on March 25, 2015, at:
Denver Homeless Out Loud, with Tony Robinson. Op. cit. p. 21.
Alyssa Figueroa, “Guess which ‘liberal’ state has 500 laws aimed at oppressing the homeless?” AlterNet.
February 18, 2015. Accessed on March 26, 2015 at:




Denver Homeless Out Loud