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Nowhere to Turn Nowhere to Hide Unwanted People Living and Being in Public Spaces

July 17, 2017

Most of the time ticking away grasping holding on making a splash without a drop of water sizzling in a cauldron of desire offering grace doing chores that require lavished attention full of doubts bereft defiant to whatever end planned or not

Editorial self desperation running out to no where


Nowhere to Turn Nowhere to Hide Unwanted People Living and Being in Public Spaces

“Homeless camping in bushes behind my home.”

“Homeless sleeping in park next to my home. I have reported this information to the police.”

This situation is rampant throughout the Front Range. People are staying in all of the parks, along all of the bike trails , along the river banks, there is no emergency disaster plan which has exacerbated the matter. Many churches and faith communities do not offer satisfactory alternatives and mentoring as was originally established in the plans to end people being and living in public spaces. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE for anyone who does not have the means to be safe. Your situation and that of the public servants is repeated everywhere and will increase as matters here become more and more like San Francisco, where the housing plan does not include people without a safe place to be. Imagine sleeping on a thrown out couch by the trash every night as a man does and sometimes couples near Cheesman Park and 13th Avenue in the alley off of Williams and High Streets? What is the quality of life of a young person who does not feel anyone wants him or her to be nearby?

I have lived in NYC as well my sister has all of her life in Manhattan. I matriculated from Bank Street College of Education in the mid-1970’s. I have worked with Covenant House when I was a graduate student at Bank Street at the time and wrote my thesis on working with the youth in Greenwich Village. These issues of drugs and the war on drugs that was created at the time is a fancy way of throwing people’s lives away. We lock them up. We use tactics that show a lack of compassion for the person. ALWAYS these are symptoms of trauma. Underlying trauma is generational poverty, not necessarily material either. We have never in my life time and I am nearly 70 dealt with the issue of trauma in early childhood. What is happening throughout America is a break down of families and children almost always are caught in these matters. Look at quarterly epidemiology reports for Denver and you’ll notice that the youth in grade school are beginning the rampant use of drugs. Your children already have connections with people who are their age who use and abuse drugs. They cannot be left out of ways to change this because this is usually where the issues arise.


Everyone needs safety from start to finish in our lives, many people who are suffering have no experience of what is a safe stable caring community in which to grow age and die. Many of the people who are most vulnerable are treated as if they did not exist or we’d rather that they were elsewhere. Their lives are integrated thoroughly with those who have adequate housing and a network of support.


first, no judgement listen be present. I can engage out reach at CCH Heather Beck and others at the main number 303 293 2217. Talk to Officer Snow White and the community out reach team. Persist in providing a resource, start with the Denver’s Road Home pamphlet, have a number of them to dissuade people from camping. Let them know that you cannot have this in your block or your alley, or wherever, but gently redirect the persons. MOST of us want direction and limits. They serve to remind us that we have a purpose and there is more than dwelling on mistakes to living. If I have references to individuals and sites I can help provide some people to contact the persons and let them know they cannot stay here. I feel indebted to those who loved me when I was down and did not care for my life and being alive was a constant struggle. In many ways a person cut off needs a person to listen and help them to find their own way. There are plenty of resources to accomplish feeling safe and offering a place for everyone especially if we consider this a disaster relief effort as some cities have adopted.
Finally, patience for many these losses have been from the first and we have to forgive ourselves and those who inflicted this misery on our lives. We also have to have deep compassion for the plight of someone who never had a network and truth is that all of us belong in the community.



“I knew a homeless man , knew him before he became homeless and knew his family.
Young collage student, drafted into Vietnam and was wounded. I don’t know if there was a head injury, traumatic head injury or sever PTSD. He returned but he never came back. He would only live on the streets, he would not talk to anyone. He didn’t bother anyone he just sat on steps or park benches or walked. He always had some money and friends would go into shops and buy something for him to eat and he would eat at soup kitchens if someone would bring something out for him. He would not go inside of a building. His dad would come sit with him for an hour or so every evening. Bring him a package of clean or new clothes every week and new shoes about every month. If it was going to be real cold he brought him extra blankets and packets of foot and hand warmers. From the day he returned from Vietnam for as long as I knew him he never went inside of a building and he never spoke to anyone. He didn’t drink and as far as anyone knew he didn’t use any drugs.
He was a big man, he never cut or combed his hair, he was always a mess and had a rather blank look in his eyes. I can understand how he would scare anyone. But I also know he was harmless. Over the years various people began just sitting down on a bench with him or the steps, just sitting for 10 15 minutes. I guess we just wanted him to know he was a human being. When I left the city he was still there. He would be getting along in years now and his parents have passed away. 
There are so many people out there for so many different reasons and there is not ever going to be one way to fix homelessness.
I know parts of a lot of other peoples stories. There just isn’t one fix”



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