Law students at the University of Denver have for several years been looking at laws in Front Range cities that disproportionately impact the homeless community – from camping bans to smoking bans.
The report found that between Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder, at least 37 ordinances criminalize behaviors associated with people experiencing homelessness. Brigitte DuPey, one of the law students involved in the report, says that four additional ordinances with similar effects in Denver were passed since 2016, and that Colorado Springs have increased the number of citations issued under their camping bans.
“They (Colorado Springs) have two camping bans, one of which is geared towards camping on public property generally and the other which is geared towards camping in public parks. Now between those two ordinances we were able to find that in 2017 there were 200 citations issued under these two camping bands, and that’s opposed to 2014 when there were only 31 issued.”
DuPey says that she hopes the findings will result in increased awareness on the criminalization of homelessness and the report’s authors hope it will lead to ballot initiatives, particularly in Denver, like the Right to Rest Act, which has failed at the state legislature 4 times. “We’re hoping to maybe have this inspire, or help the efforts to have a ballot initiative in Denver, making it so that they can no longer have camping bans on the books.”