On New Year’s Eve in downtown Boulder about 30 people gathered to remember Benjamin Harvey, a 44 year old homeless man who died on Christmas Eve on the streets of Boulder in temperatures that hovered around 10 degrees.
(photo credit: Darren O’Connor)
Carah Wertheimer, writing at Medium.com, reports that friends of Harvey who attended the vigil, spoke of the circumstances that lead up to him being excluded from the Boulder Homeless Shelter, that lead to him sleeping on the streets in frigid conditions.
“Kevin Beck, of Boulder, spoke at length about events leading up to Harvey’s death. According to Beck, Harvey was unable to claim his mail from the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless because he arrived one minute late for an 8 a.m. pick-up cut-off. Apparently Harvey was expecting money in the mail that he would’ve used for temporary lodging.
Harvey, who according to several vigil attendees had a history of compliant behavior over time at the homeless shelter, apparently reacted out of frustration over inability to claim his mail and struck a plexiglass fixture at the shelter. This incident resulted in Harvey’s banishment from the shelter for two weeks, according to Beck.
Beck stressed that Harvey’s one minute late arrival for mail claim ultimately resulted in his Christmas Eve exposure and death. Beck, and several other speakers who followed him, claimed that overly-stringent enforcement of homeless shelter policies often has outsize impacts on homeless individuals and is regrettably all-too-common.”
Homeless rights advocates have been critical of gaps in Boulder’s emergency shelter provision. The city provides emergency shelter only if temperatures fall below 20 degrees with no snow or 32 degrees accompanied by precipitation.
Harvey was one of an estimated 16 people who died on Boulder’s streets in 2017.