HELP BOULDER COUNTY’S OWN HOMELESS MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN — NOT THE BUMS FROM ELSEWHERE!
By Max R. Weller
Read the report from the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:
Xander King makes jewelry at the Boulder Main Public Library on Wednesday. King is homeless and a self-described traveler who has been in Boulder for the last month and a half (emphasis is mine — MRW). He said he was once ticketed in Boulder for camping on a cold and snowy day when he was keeping warm in his sleeping bag. “I thought that was a little uncalled for,” he said. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)
Boulder is prepared to partner with an outside organization on a temporary summer sheltering program for the homeless, the city announced this week.
A request for proposals describes a desire to pair with groups “with experience in homeless sheltering to plan and implement a temporary shelter or authorized camping program, and manage all aspects of a shelter or camp operation, including start-up, staffing, program rules and oversight, client services, security, sanitation, liaison with the city and shut down.”
Officials said preference would be given to “building-based” shelter sites, but that outdoor sites could be considered, too.
The city is hoping this partner will emerge in the next two weeks, roughly, in time to get something up and running between about June 1 and Sept. 30. As of Wednesday, no suitors had reached out, according to Zach McGee, a city spokesman.
The timing of the announcement is significant: Boulder, which has an urban camping ban in place, said on April 28 that it’d be spending more than $300,000 to increase police patrols while also increasing the frequency of homeless encampment sweeps.
This exacerbated an existing challenge to enforcement. Boulder seeks to clean up downtown, among other areas, by reducing urban camping — but with walk-up sheltering closed during warmer months, there aren’t any legal ways to sleep for homeless people not already entered into a transitional program.
Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Shoemaker highlighted this dilemma in a comment last August.
“We need to come up with a summer shelter solution that gives an alternative for people to have a place to sleep,” he said. “Then, if you choose to sleep along (Boulder Creek), it’s no longer, ‘I have nowhere to sleep.’ It’s, ‘I chose not to go where I could sleep.'”
That idea was not supported by a City Council majority, and was not included in a slate of programmatic changes that became effective May 1.
So why is Boulder soliciting proposals now, two weeks after taking the first steps toward a systemic shift in homeless services, and just a few days before the council convenes for a Tuesday study session on the city’s long-term approach?
“In hindsight,” Mayor Suzanne Jones said Wednesday, “it might have been choreographed better.”
The announcement of newfound city interest in a potential summertime shelter was the result of conversations between Shoemaker, Councilman Sam Weaver, staff of Boulder homeless service providers, city Human Services Director Karen Rahn and City Manager Jane Brautigam.
“The chain of events has caused a number of people to say that we do need to provide options, and as a result the city manager has presented or is attempting to provide another option to us,” Shoemaker said, when asked about the timing of the request for proposals.
“Whether it comes to fruition as an option because someone bites on it or whether we as a council ultimately decide to follow through because someone agrees to do it remains to be seen.”
Brautigam was out of the office on Wednesday and Rahn could not be reached for an interview.
McGee said the city is “intending to support” the potential summer shelter financially, but added that no specific spending limits have yet been identified, as no organizations are yet considered serious candidates.
The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless on north Broadway is one site, though, that might seem a prime candidate, but can already be ruled out.
That facility will have about 40 unused beds every night this summer, but the shelter’s original management plan requires that no walk-up services will be provided during the emergency sheltering offseason — a concession to neighbors.
It’s this quandary that partially informed the city’s decision to seek out another city facility, the East Boulder Community Center, as the possible site of cold-weather emergency sheltering for this summer. The north Boulder shelter could provide such a service, under a different management plan.
However, if an organization comes forward to partner with the city on a summertime shelter, there will presumably be no need for a separate shelter at the East Boulder Community Center for nights with bad weather.
I have never met Karen Rahn, described above as the city Human Services Director, but I’ve NEVER trusted her one bit; it’s always seemed to me that she is way too sympathetic with those apologists / enablers of the worst-behaved transients who have made our city FUBAR.
I’m sincerely hoping that this gesture is no more than a sop to the crybabies at Boulder Rights Watch . . . Goodness knows that our main goals should be: 1) TO PRIORITIZE SHELTER / SERVICES FOR HOMELESS RESIDENTS OF BOULDER COUNTY; and 2) to move the Travelers, who have no respect for this community (why else would they pee and poop in Boulder Creek?), on down the road far, far away. Or at least as far as Denver.
Clearly, the group founded by convicted rapist Jim Budd — Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO) — is finished forever. Good riddance!
Given the fact that recent heavy rains have soaked all of my camping gear, and there may not be a chance to dry it all out today, I’m considering retreating to a motel room tonight. BTW, this is a situation in which I could really have used that $350 some thief on the staff at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless stole from my locker there. I can still afford it, however, and the lure of a Real Bed in a private room is strong . . .