Unhoused: Recognizing realities

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Emma Athena

The increased visibility of street homelessness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has motivated a wave of new conversations about the feasibility of sanctioned encampments in Boulder and elsewhere.

The idea of a sanctioned campground for the unhoused is one that’s been loudly and routinely rejected by the larger Boulder community for decades. Concentrated public pressure has even motivated elected officials to move in the opposite direction, creating stricter anti-encampment policies over the years. But in a city where there are no day shelters, and the number of nighttime shelter beds have been reduced over the course of the last year while the criteria for who is eligible to sleep in those beds has also narrowed, many unhoused individuals feel they have no choice but to sleep outside.  

Homeless advocates have long 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 in downtown Boulder. And sanctioned encampments are used elsewhere in the country, with dozens created to support the growing unhoused populations since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

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