Cañon City Council files safe outdoor spaces ordinance after residents raise concerns – Canon City Daily Record
Before a standing-only audience, Cañon City Council on Monday filed the second reading of an ordinance that would allow organizations to create a temporary shelter or overnight shelter, known as a safe outdoor space.
The council passed first reading in April; the proposed order will be reviewed on June 20.
Several of the local residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting expressed concern that an SOS will attract foreigners to the area. They are also tired of picking up used needles, empty liquor bottles, human waste and other trash on their properties.
Will Colon said his family was in a unique situation because their property was in the county, but their fence was on the city border. Their property also borders Loaves and Fishes, Journey Home and the SOS Test Pilot Camp which operated from September to April.
“When I call the police department they can’t really do much, when I call the sheriff’s department they can’t really do anything either,” he said. “We are left to our own devices the police.”
And he wonders where the line will be drawn to stop expanding so many life situations for those experiencing homelessness.
“When (the loaves and fishes) filled up they built Journey Home, when that was filled up they built more – they had the tent city, they add loaves and fishes,” said he declared. “These are all great things from your point of view. The more you build, the more they come, and they come in droves.
Colon patrols his property at least once a week, and in the summer it’s two to three times a week.
“There’s another side to homelessness that you haven’t talked about — you’ve talked about it rainbows and unicorns, but you can’t live right next to it,” Colon said. “You don’t see it every day. I have been assaulted in the past 10 days by a homeless person, made them come onto my property and litter, vandalize and poo on my property – all within the past 10 days – not the 10 last years that we’ve been fighting against that – just the last 10 days.
When he attempted to remove an individual from his property, he threatened to kill him.
“When I asked to press charges against someone who told me he was going to kill me on my own property for kicking him out, nothing happened, no charges,” Colon said.
The City Council of Cañon approves the first reading for the creation of temporary shelters
Mike Short, who lives on Grandview Avenue, once had a naked man swing a machete in the middle of the night on his property.
“I am really concerned for the safety of my family,” he said. “Some of the people you kick out of these places because they don’t play by the rules are very dangerous,”
Third-generation Fremont County farmer Mannie Colon spoke about the fenders and wheels that were stolen from his trailers, all the trespassers who come onto his property, and the fires that were started on his farm and on the surrounding lands. .
“They’ve cut the fence and are coming for apples or other fruits and vegetables,” he said. “I haven’t gone to the force yet, but you are pushing me to go.”
Todd Luce, senior minister at Grandview Christian Church, said his church has been dealing with the aftermath of homelessness for years and has spent thousands of dollars on cleanup efforts this year alone.
“It was dangerous because of needles, broken beer bottles and drug paraphernalia found on our property,” he said. “When a child brings me a needle while playing in the grass, it’s a problem.”
He and his staff were threatened by the homeless and the church had to hire security teams.
“We do our best to help people, but we are under threat, we are in danger, we are trying to create space for our children,” Luce said.
Canon City Police Chief John Schick said officers established a non-confrontational relationship with Pilot SOS residents and that calls for service decreased when Pilot SOS was on duty.
“Having them there – whether it’s 10, 12 or 19 – it’s 10, 12 or 19 that aren’t in Macon Plaza or Veterans Park or places where we’ve had significant issues,” a- he declared. “We can’t stop to get out of this problem.”
Behavioral health professionals believe that it is imperative to be able to go to the SOS site and to be able to consult them daily. Many people have been reluctant to receive any type of support, but by building a relationship of trust with their case managers, they are more willing to come to Loaves & Fishes and consider programs and services that could potentially help them. to obtain permanent housing.
DeeDee Clement, executive director of Loaves & Fishes Ministries, said in January 2020 that there were 396 homeless people in the community. That’s down more than 60% to 149 today.
“We really trust these numbers because of the process we learned through Community Solutions, where we do a housing assessment and sit down with each homeless person and collect at least 19 different data points on that person to try to identify what they need to get housing,” she said.
She said 70% of people had lived in Fremont County for more than a year; only 25% of these people were homeless before COVID-19.
Clement said the SOS provides resources, services and case management.
“It’s not a free-for-all, it’s not a pop-up campsite,” she said. “It’s very intentional, there’s a contract they sign…it’s very structured, there’s oversight, there’s follow-up and it provides that place where people can move forward with their lives.”
The SOS test pilot had 26 campers. Among them, 15 have found accommodation.
To have an SOS, part of the requirements include a plan of operations, availability of water and toilets, being duly licensed, undergoing inspections through the police department, and limiting operations to a maximum of six months.
Marci Harrison, a co-respondent from SolVista Health, said the number of homeless people has gone down since Built For Zero was implemented in the community.
“For me, if we were attracting people, we would have seen almost 400 not a year or three years ago,” she said. “I think we’re seeing a steady decrease in the number of people on the streets as well as the number of people in our camp. We were able to house 15 out of 26 – that’s pretty extreme over a six-month period.”
The council will hold a public work session on a date yet to be determined but before the second reading of the draft ordinance.