Cut the crime rate: close Bridge House

(Previously published on November 19, 2013).

By Max R. Weller

It’s interesting to see how, week after week, Boulder’s crime is centered around Bridge House. Check out the Boulder PD’s Weekly Crime Map. It’s worthy of note also that relatively little serious crime is actually recorded in my neighborhood up in north Boulder, which is not to excuse the drunken transients there who get away with almost everything short of a violent felony. My educated guess is that Boulder PD manpower is concentrated where it appears most urgently needed.

What does this locus of crime in the downtown area have to do with Bridge House, you ask? That organization, operating from cramped and inadequate quarters at 1120 1/2 Pine, is nonetheless a magnet for the worst-behaved transients from Denver and elsewhere who come here by the scores (if not hundreds) every October for overnight emergency sheltering at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. Its convenient location only increases its drawing power to the bums; Pearl Street Mall, Boulder Creek Path, and University Hill are all right nearby.

I reiterate that a homeless people’s day center ought to be located well away from downtown. If it’s impossible to keep BSH open during the day all week long, then Bridge House should be relocated to east Boulder or even somewhere in the south of our fair city.

Furthermore, priority for available services must be given to the homeless who can show valid photo ID with a Boulder County address (we are the county seat, after all); all others to the end of the line for what’s left, if anything. Bridge House could serve the transients a plate of beans and rice, a cup of coffee, and a fossilized scone — then hand ‘em each the $5 regional ticket on RTD headed back to Denver. In the long run, for both BH and the City of Boulder, this would be far cheaper than the ongoing costs of transients hanging around for months on end. Not to mention the reduction in crime we could expect to see, and the enhanced quality of life we could then enjoy, as the overall number of homeless on Boulder’s streets is reduced by 50% or more.

The only “drawback” I foresee is a corresponding reduction in the numbers of social workers, case managers, mental health counselors, addiction counselors, the list goes on. Hey, maybe that would be a plus, too!

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