On June 4, Englewood police officially cleared out approximately 45 homeless camps that were home to around 70 people along the South Platte River. The cleanup process, which includes fixing the …
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On June 4, Englewood police officially cleared out approximately 45 homeless camps that were home to around 70 people along the South Platte River. The cleanup process, which includes fixing the damage along the river’s banks, continued on throughout the week until they were cleared out.
Police began the process of notifying people in the camps on May 21 about the city’s intention to ban homeless encampments along the banks of the river. The camps were considered a public nuisance under the Englewood Municipal Code, and efforts to reseed the riverbank by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District are underway. The encampments created issues with public health and safety, according to police.
Englewood Police Sgt. Reid McGrath said those who were living in the camps were responsive to the police department’s request for them to move away from the river.
“We had a monumental amount of complaints from neighborhood businesses, residents and people passing through the area. (Those living in the camps) understand that this happens periodically, and the situation needs to be revolved,” said McGrath.
One business near the camps is Street Dreamz, a Denver car dealership owned by Vince Rosensteel. The dealership is slightly more than a mile away from the camps.
“I have high-end clientele, and at times there are people who don’t want to stop at my business from fear of what they see,” said Rosensteel. “I’ve talked to enough of (people at the camps) who say if they remove them from here, they’re going to go somewhere else.”
Change the Trend, a group that works to mobilize and equip Englewood, Littleton and Sheridan to engage homelessness issues, was available to provide information about food, shelters, medical care and other resources on June 4.
Part of Change the Trend includes A Stronger Cord, an organization that helps people recover from addiction through exercise. The organization was there that day to help bring people to Giving Heart Englewood, a nonprofit that provides services to homeless people.
Mark McIntosh, who leads A Stronger Cord, said he interacted with a 34-year-old homeless woman at the camp who was abandoned by her parents at the age of 13. A Stronger Cord brought the woman to Giving Heart Englewood where she was provided shoes, clothing and other resources.
McIntosh believes the camp cleanups went well, but he questioned where those who lived at the camps will go now. One idea he has is to reach out to churches to add a few tiny homes in their parking lots for homeless people.
“A critical piece we need is that first-step housing for those people who say they’re sick and tired” of being homeless, he said. “We have all the pieces, except that first step housing, and that’s what we’re tryiing to work on.”
Nicholas Olson, a Littleton resident, showed up to the encampment early in the morning to assist the homeless with their belongings. He said he wasn’t affiliated with anyone, and he visits the homeless throughout the week to have conversations with them.
“There’s a lot of people out there who do genuinely care. My wife and I, we just love people,” said Olson, whose father has been homeless before. “We just need people to come together and communicate, and it takes people coming down here and literally getting on your knees and talking with these people.”
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