Thursday, May 3, 2012

As printed today in the Denver Post

I wrote a letter to the editor based on hours of sitting and listening to the testimony both in favor of and against the ordinance banning street camping.  Below is the complete letter that I wrote and also sent to the Westword and every member of the city council, an edited version (for length) ran in the letters section of today's Denver Post.

The ordinance to criminalize camping voted on last night by nine of the thirteen members of the city council is simplistic, and creates a new criminal class in our city out of innocent citizens.  It is not written as many of those who spoke in support of it last night claim it to be, it is NOT a first step in creating a more holistic solution but a clear cut statement that people who have not prospered in our diminishing economy and do not have the support networks that some of us can access are beneath the rest of us.  Those who support this ordinance have the perception that it will actually help the population targeted, when in fact their statements emphasized how it will help their businesses and nothing more.  In reality, it is a gateway ordinance in creating a criminal record preventing the ability to access any housing, and likely employment as well, in the future.  It takes innocent people, who have it hard in very hard times, and condemns them to a cycle from which it is even more difficult to break free.
Add to this the lack of sustainable funding for the programs already in existence, and we can only look forward to the rise of this new and unwarranted criminal class.

Jennifer Gross, Denver

PS – Civic Center Park is not the exclusive domain of the wealthy condo residing new residents of the Golden Triangle.  You knew what the area was when you bought your $300,000+ condos, and now you have buyers regret.  The park belongs to ALL of us, including those you wish to kick out.

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