Denver gives notice of two cleanups next week

Department of Transportation and Infrastructure crews are due Aug. 17 at an encampment near the Denver Art Museum and Aug. 18 at 13th Avenue and Washington Street
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One of about two dozen tents near the Denver Art Museum on Aug. 10, 2020. A cleanup of the area has been scheduled for Aug. 17, 2020. (Donna Bryson/Denverite)

Updates with second cleanup scheduled.

The city has given a week's notice of cleanups in areas near the Denver Art Museum and in Capitol Hill where people experiencing homelessness have been living in tents .

In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn said, "Next week we will ask people at these locations to move so we can thoroughly clean."

In the meantime, Kuhn said, outreach workers were offering people shelter, medical care and other services.

"We have shelter beds available," Kuhn said.

"We're just doing this work to improve safety for all," she added.

Signs posted Monday along Acoma Street between 11th and 12th avenues said crews would remove all property found on the streets, sidewalks, alleys or "other public way or place" on the following Monday, Aug. 17. About two dozen tents were at the site, around the corner from where people were dining at tables set up along sidewalks outside restaurants Monday evening.

A cleanup was scheduled Aug. 18 at 13th Avenue and Washington Street, near Morey Middle School.

In a settlement finalized last year in a class action lawsuit challenging the city's practice of clearing people experiencing homelessness and their belongings, the city must give a week's notice before the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure undertakes a large-scale cleanup. The settlement does not prevent the city from acting more quickly when it determines that public health and safety are threatened. Two recent cleanups nearby (around Morey and in Lincoln Memorial Park) were led by the public health department at a day's notice.

Whether the operation is led by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (formerly public works) or by public health, the result is often the same for people living on the streets. They go a few blocks, sometimes losing belongings in relocations that are chaotic even when they have warning they will have to move along.

A man who gave his name only as Conflict said he had just moved to Acoma on Monday from a site near Morey and was unsure where he would go next.

"Where else is there to go?" he said.

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