The Homeless in Arvada — Camping in Olde Town


by John Kiljan

What do you do when an unkempt lady with a baby comes up to your car in the Triangle shopping district and says she’s just been evicted from her friend’s apartment and needs money to find a place to stay for the night? Even if you gave her enough cash for a cheap motel in nearby Wheat Ridge and food for the baby, she’d still have the same problem the following night.   And you don’t really know if she was really tossed out of the home she was “couch surfing” at or if she is just out panhandling for some extra spending money for beer or wine.

APD "Who Can Help" brochure

APD “Who Can Help” brochure

The Arvada Police Department has at least part of the answer to that question with a brochure they distribute to the homeless people they encounter. Their “Those Who Can Help” flyer lists the names and numbers of the various agencies available to Arvada citizens who are homeless and who do indeed need help. You can print out a few copies yourself to hand out to those you find are in need by going to this web page,

http://arvadapd.org/pages/arvada-police-create-homeless-resource-guide-public-service-annoucement

and clicking on the “Homeless Brochure” link you’ll find at the bottom of the website. I keep a few copies of it in my car’s glove box. There is also a link to a two-minute video that explains the City of Arvada’s philosophy toward helping the homeless.

Unlike Denver, the City of Arvada doesn’t have a social services program itself, but instead makes significant contributions to various Arvada and Jefferson County relief agencies that do provide emergency food, clothing and housing relief for the homeless.

An excellent article by Denver Post reporter Austin Briggs in last Thursday’s edition of YourHub describes part of the growing problem of homeless people and sleeping rough in central Arvada. It’s called “Advocates for Homeless in Jefferson County See Need for Day Center”. If you care about your community, it is well worth the few minutes it takes to read it. If you no longer get the print edition of the Post you can probably read the on-line edition of the article for free at this link:

http://www.denverpost.com/arvada/ci_26410103/advocates-homeless-jefferson-county-see-need-day-center

However, the Post has been capping free access to their online content lately and you may have to purchase an online subscription to read the story if you’ve recently read other DP articles. A subscription is well worth it to keep informed about what’s happening your community.

Here are a few quotes from Mr Briggs write up:

“Homeless men without a place to sleep have been known to camp out in the wooded area [aka, Snake Park] near Grandview Avenue and Vance Street. Police frequently have occupants clear the encampments, and the city will soon cut brush and trees along the greenbelt to discourage camping. Next year, an RTD parking garage and eventual development on the site will remove any camping opportunities.”

And why not just arrest those sleeping in public areas and keep hassling them until they move onto some other city?

Homeless_HandoutCropThe article goes on to quote the Arvada Police Department, “Arvada Police Deputy Chief Gary Creager said officers have to strike a balance between enforcing ordinances while not creating a ‘vicious cycle’ of fines, missed court dates, jail, warrants and waste of taxpayer resources.”

“It’s not a crime to be homeless,” Creager said. “They’re citizens of Arvada and we need to respect them like everyone else.”

 

Homelessness is indeed an issue in Arvada.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The YourHub article has several links embedded in it that are also worth following.

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

Our main website is at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”.

CLRC
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004

303-423-9875
jpkiljan@yahoo.com

Saturday 30 August 2014

 

 

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One Response to The Homeless in Arvada — Camping in Olde Town

  1. As a follow up: Deputy Police Chief Gary Creager is quoted in the DP article as saying that hard enforcement can create a “‘vicious cycle’ of fines, missed court dates, jail, warrants and waste of taxpayer resources.”

    He’s right. I was reminded of that when I got a recent note from a friend in another state who deals with the mental problems that poor people often have. Here are some excerpts:

    “Most of my clients are the poorest of the poor, the saddest of the sad, and the most lost among us. My caseload is about 70% Medicaid. . . . These people are POOR. They are abused, mentally ill, disabled, cognitively impaired, traumatized, unemployable, but mostly, they are POOR. They are BROKE.”

    “So, Rock County gives them a ticket for some infraction that is due to poverty (no insurance on the car, light out on the car, no muffler, expired registration ($85 in Rock County, 15% of a disability check!!!), safety issue (broken window) blah . . . ”

    “They cannot pay the ticket. They wait until they can save up. They get another ticket, now they owe $300. Almost 1/3 of their check. Blah blah . . . ”

    “Their license is revoked for non-payment of even one fine. Until they pay the fine (understand, Rock County does not accept payment plans of any kind for these fines, and jail time does not erase them! They must pay them in FULL) they cannot reactivate their license. . . . So, they drive their vehicle to school, the doctor’s, etc. Then, the local constable begins to recognize them, pulls them over for driving without a license.”

    “There is no way for them to get out of the ever-escalating cycle of tickets and fines, except to go to unaffordable bus passes. . . . THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!”

    “So, I am asking all my Janesville friends, and I am challenging my governmental representatives . . . to find a solution to this issue. Almost all of these people would clean the courthouse, do community service, do work for the county, etc. to pay these fines off, but that is not currently an option. They feel helpless and hopeless!!! But we are disenfranchising them from life by disallowing them to work off their fines when they do not have work to do!!! Please, if you agree with me, forward this to where it will do some good!”

    Note: To its credit, the Arvada Municipal Court does accept payment plans for court fines and fees. And it often allows community service in lieu of fines. But it will also stop you from getting your driver’s license renewed and put out a bench warrant for your arrest if you don’t keep up with your repayment obligations. I don’t know about Jefferson County.

    –John

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