Denver mayor backs measures for homeless camps and funding

DENVER (AP) — Denver's mayor on Wednesday announced support for temporary campsites and the creation of a dedicated funding source for the city’s homeless population.

Mayor Michael Hancock said he has directed city agencies to focus efforts on guiding people living in neighborhood encampments to motel rooms, safe outdoor spaces and shelters beginning this week, KUSA-TV reports.

Hancock voiced support for a proposal by the Colorado Village Collaborative for a “safe outdoor space” concept to provide managed outdoor spaces for emergency shelters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hancock also announced support for a potential November ballot measure to raise an estimated $40 million a year to support services for people experiencing homelessness.

The proposal would increase housing options, rental assistance and supportive services, and enhance shelter capacity while adding 24-hour services, counseling and case management.

If approved by the City Council and by voters in the fall, the city said the measure would increase Denver’s sales tax .25%, or 2.5 cents for each $10 purchase.

City officials also plan to increase efforts to clean homeless encampments with more frequent trash pickup and used-needle collection.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.