Urban camping bans survive state house attempt to limit them

A Colorado House committee has rejected a proposal that was meant to help people experiencing homelessness statewide.
2 min. read
Reps. Jovan Melton and Adrienne Benavidez testify about their bill, HB-20-1233, before Colorado’s Transportation and Local Government Committee. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A Colorado House committee has rejected a proposal that was meant to give people experiencing homelessness statewide more flexibility in where they could spend the night.

The House Transportation and Local Government Committee voted 8-3 Wednesday against the bill brought by Reps. Adrienne Benavidez and Jovan Melton. The two had proposed prohibiting state and local governments from banning camping in public spaces unless they could offer adequate shelter. The bill also would have allowed people experiencing homelessness to live in their cars or other motor vehicles as long as they were legally parked.

It was the fifth failed attempt by Melton, an Aurora Democrat, to restrict local governments' camping bans. His previous "right to rest" proposals were broader.

Melton said during Wednesday's hearing that he had modeled this year's proposal in part on a December ruling by Denver County Judge Johnny Barajas. Barajas wrote that Denver's shelter system was inadequate to the point that prohibiting camping amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The city has appealed the ruling and had argued in court that its shelters met emergency needs.

Melton is in his last term at the state house. Benavidez, an Adams County Democrat, said she would introduce the proposal again next year.

Recent Stories