Enforces Loveland camping ban to accelerate expansion of shelter space – Greeley Tribune

The Loveland City Council approved a ban on outdoor camping on May 17, but the lack of an overnight shelter for displaced residents has delayed efforts to remove the encampments. In a special meeting Tuesday, city staff presented a progress report on efforts to expand alternative shelter options and increase code enforcement.

“If there was a magic answer to all of this, every other community in Colorado and elsewhere would have already started it,” Loveland Parks and Recreation Director Elizabeth Kiel told the council. “A lot of communities are trying to process in the best way possible for their communities, and I think we’re doing a really, really admirable job of dealing with this very large and complex issue for the city of Loveland.”

Kayl was joined by Deputy City Manager Ron Wensing, Director of Public Affairs Mark Jackson, and Office of Community Engagement Director Alison Hood.

Wensing was followed by a summary of enforcement efforts to date, which have been limited in scale and largely concentrated in the Kings Crossing area. As of June 24, the city has successfully removed 18 encampments, and 21 people have accepted offers of alternative shelter at local motels.

Wensing explained that concerns about a possible lawsuit were reflected in city staff’s approach to removing the encampments, prompting the deliberate speed.

“Employees wanted to move quickly, but also adhere to the guardrails of Martin v. Boise,” he said, referring to a 2018 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the alternative violated unsheltered camping laws. be.” Eighth Amendment Prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishment Eighth Amendment.

Kiel and his team oversee the evacuations and manage the cleanup of the camp, a multi-step process involving representatives from the city’s Department of Hazards, Loveland Police, Thompson Valley Emergency Management Services, Summit Stone Health Partners and private contractors.

Displaced persons campaigns have followed suit so far, he said, and he hopes the relationships he and his team are building with residents will help overcome resistance. He then credited LPD Sgt. Garrett Osielka led these efforts on behalf of the city.

“He coordinates most of what happens at the King’s Crossing site,” he said. “We are very fortunate as an organization to have him.”

Kiel and his team have also worked with the Loveland Fire and Rescue Department to mitigate wildfires in the campgrounds and will eventually work with the Open Lands Department to restore nature.

As for the remaining encampments in King’s Crossing and other parts of the city, it could be removed in a few weeks. Cost limits make motel rooms only a transitional shelter, Wensing said, meaning the city must find alternatives elsewhere.

Currently, the city is targeting two facilities to fill the gap.

On July 18, the Loveland Resource Center opened at 137 Lincoln St., the former home of 137 Homeless Connection. As of Monday, the center will be available as an all-day resource center for individuals with services such as laundry, mail and storage. On-site programming coordinators can connect campers with housing and mental health resources.

The center will open as an overnight shelter in early August, with room for up to 25 people a night, Hudd said.

“We’re still at the point where we’re training the staff and getting everything ready,” he said. “We know we have a lot of work to do in terms of building a strong program, and I think what’s important to know here is that our main goal is to create a program that people want to go to. … We “We are trying to attract people to this place, because we know that otherwise, people will take their tents and find somewhere else to camp.”

The city has also cleared the former sewage treatment plant on South Railroad Street to serve as a large-scale facility that could potentially house up to 75 people. Most recently used for municipal storage, preparing the site for the new use was “extremely challenging,” according to Jackson.

“If you were going to see this site four weeks ago, it’s probably being incredibly generous to call it a fixer,” he said. “The transformation that has taken place at that site is nothing short of amazing.”

Wensing and his team sought advice from the council on individual shelter options at the Southern Railway site and after some discussion, large tents were deemed the best option, as they are relatively inexpensive and can be delivered within 45 days. Other options were modular buildings, which are more secure than tents, or pallet houses, which offer the most privacy but take up to six months to deliver and set up.

Despite some earlier frustrations with the pace of implementation, council members seemed pleased with the staff’s progress to date. Mayor Jackie Marsh and City Councilwoman Dana Foley both endorsed the scope of the commitment, as well as Kiel’s reminder that there are no easy answers.

“While many of us want government to move at the speed of business, it doesn’t,” Foley said. “There are a lot of moving parts to this.”

He also agreed that the Boise vs. Martin instruction was “just and the right thing to do.”

However, some council members were concerned that the new facilities and expanded services might attract new campers to Loveland, and urged Wensing and his team to start collecting measurable data.

“We need to see on an ongoing basis, maybe on a weekly basis, how many campsites there are, how many we’ve cleared, and how many new sites there are,” John Fogel said. “I’m particularly interested, and I think the council is looking at accommodation, the number of new camps that are popping up. I think we really need to follow that up.”

In the meantime, Kiel and his team will continue to remove the encampment on a weekly basis, and more enforcement is expected as the night shelter space becomes available. According to Wensing, this will probably happen in September.

“We’d love to be able to give you a specific date, but we can’t quite yet,” he said. We need to make sure we have enough beds, space and storage. “So once we can activate the Southern Rail site, we can really ramp it up.”

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