Unhoused: Episode 4 – Sanctioned Encampments

If  they would have given me a fine I wouldn’t even be able to pay it because my financial situation would prohibit that. I don’t have the money for that .” — Leslie Lott.

Unhoused a 6-part podcast/radio series produced by the Boulder Weekly and KGNU. Read more about the series in the Boulder Weekly.


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In this episode we take a close look at what it’s like living on the streets in Boulder—a city where there are no day shelters, and not only has the number of nighttime shelter beds been reduced over the course of the last year, the criteria for who is eligible to sleep in those beds has also narrowed. That means many feel they have no choice but to sleep outside.

There aren’t any sanctioned campgrounds for these folks to rest overnight, though the unhoused community and their advocates have been asking for one from the city and the regional homelessness mitigation agency, Homeless Solutions for Boulder County, or HSBC. For years, homeless advocates have argued a reliable and indiscriminate space for people to rest would go a long way in reducing the number of random camps that pop up downtown. Sanctioned encampments are used elsewhere in the country, and dozens of new ones have been created to support the growing unhoused populations since the coronavirus pandemic began.

As it stands in Boulder County, thorough, the mere idea of a sanctioned encampment for the unhoused is one that’s been loudly and routinely rejected by the larger Boulder community for decades. In fact, concentrated public pressure has motivated elected officials to move in the opposite direction, creating stricter anti-encampment policies over the years and intensely enforcing the city’s municipal code 5-6-10, the ordinance that criminalizes camping, which gives law enforcement grounds to ticket people for sleeping outside within city limits.

Unhoused is a 6-part radio series and podcast produced by the Boulder Weekly and KGNU. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, communities already struggling to provide services to the unhoused are seeking to end an enduring problem with new solutions: preventing evictions and exploring opportunities for safe lots, urban campgrounds and tiny homes in addition to the national Housing First strategy. Whether you live in Boulder or not, join host Emma Athena as she analyzes how COVID-19 has changed the conversation around homelessness solutions.

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