Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca does not support placing a city-sanctioned camp for people experiencing homelessness in the Coliseum parking lot and is instead searching for another site in her district for what some call a safe outdoor space.
Lisa Calderón, CdeBaca’s chief of staff, said Monday that the District 9 representative opposed the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods “being overburdened with camp sites. They’ve done their part. She’s actively looking for another site.”
Mayor Michael Hancock announced on July 1 that he was reversing his long-held opposition to sanctioned camping. Weeks later, the Coliseum lot emerged as the top candidate for the first of two or three sites, each expected to accommodate 60 people. Residents of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea objected, noting that they had already hosted two large shelters established during the pandemic, one inside the Coliseum and one inside the neighboring National Western Complex, as well as a tiny home village that is an alternative to shelters. Globeville and Elyria-Swanswea residents depicted the decisions to locate support for people experiencing homelessness in their impoverished, largely minority neighborhoods as part of a decades-old pattern of treating the area as a dumping ground for the city’s problems.
Without CdeBaca’s support, it seemed unlikely the sanctioned camp would end up in the Coliseum parking lot.
Cole Chandler of the Colorado Village Collaborative, the nonprofit set to manage the sanctioned camp, said in an email Monday: “We are doing everything we can to find a location outside of GES.”
“We continue to evaluate sites across the entire city and are actively working with Councilwoman CdeBaca and her team to find other potential sites in her district,” Chandler added.
Earlier Monday, CdeBaca issued a press release responding to Mayor Michael Hancock’s State of the City address, in which he said unsanctioned camps that have grown in the city since the outbreak of COVID-19 “cannot persist” and repeated that the pandemic had created a need for extraordinary measures such as managed and serviced camping. Hancock had long resisted sanctioned camping, saying the focus should be on getting people experiencing homelessness indoors.
CdeBaca called Hancock’s remarks on homelessness “tone-deaf.” She said the safe outdoor space proposal brought to the mayor during the pandemic by a coalition of nonprofits and faith-based organizations “is a harm reduction measure that needs to be implemented citywide and at a scale to meet the need in our city — I will not allow District 9 neighborhoods of color to continue to be a dumping ground for failed administration policies.”