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Homelessness ordinance protestors dominate Fort Collins City Council meeting

Community members speak about homelessness in Fort Collins during a city council meeting on April 19th.
Community members speak about homelessness in Fort Collins during a city council meeting April 19.

Fort Collins citizens wearing yellow tags reading “sleep is a human need” spoke against the ordinance that allows homeless people to be ticketed for sleeping in parks during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Arguably the most moving part of the night would be when one citizen asked members of the Council to stand up and put a tag over their heart, as members of the audience stood in support while they spoke.

Many citizens who spoke were outraged that the City of Fort Collins could recognize “Every Matters day” while still ticketing homeless people trying to sleep. Many women were concerned about the reduction of beds that will go into effect May 1 that will reduce the number of beds for women. In the City of Fort Collins, there are 61 more people sleeping on streets than there are shelter beds.

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Kelly Conner, a Colorado State University student in the school of social work, spoke on how homeless people are left off the city’s proclamation of incivility, suggesting that their statement is incomplete. 

“I think that the city should take note of what CSU is doing and work towards inclusive excellence and follow in their steps,” said Conner.

Community member Esther Oggula, who holds a master’s degree in social work from CSU, expressed her concern over ticketing the homeless for sleeping.

“City Council still has not given us an answer as far as, ‘Where are people who can’t take advantage of shelter beds, or on nights that those shelters are full?'” Oggula said. “Where are these people supposed to go in order to avoid being ticketed?”

So far in 2016, no tickets have been written on nights when beds were full, according to the Fort Collins Police Department.

Many homeless members of the community who spoke during the open forum were absent when City Council members spoke during the follow-up, as noted by Council member Gerry Horak.

A spokesperson from Project Homeless Connect gave an overview of their recent community event as well, who said 400 guests were served that day, 70 coats and 80 shoes were donated and 24 bikes were repaired. 375 community members partook in Project Homeless Connect, many of whom were CSU students, showing that many organizations are invested in this issue.

“For anyone to suggest that homeless people don’t matter in this city is unfair. It’s frankly incorrect and it’s misleading,” said Darin Atteberry, Fort Collins city manager.

The city has been working hard on the issue, according to Kristin Stephens, District 4 councilwoman. To say the city is not doing anything is not moving the conversation forward into a solution, she said. The City of Fort Collins does not support camping as a solution to homelessness. 

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Erin Krigger can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @littleekrig.

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  • D

    Denise WrightApr 21, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Our once BEAUTIFUL CITY has become a HAVEN for so-called homeless people, AKA DRIFTERS!!!!!! Why would you actually spend your time seeking employment when you can make 4 times as much PANHANDLING and have plenty of money for BOOZE and WEED and have your housing paid for?????
    When The Homeless Coalition cruises the street asking these IDIOTS if they’re homeless, of course they will tell them their sob story. They won’t tell you that they pay $370.00 per week in one of the shady motels on East Mullberry.
    I personally know of many people who do just that.
    TWO such people have been occupying the corner’s of E. Lemay and Magnolia in the Walmart parking lot. I won’t give their names but if you travel through this area you would have seen them there for the past 2 1/2 years. One a very drugged up women with a brown dog and her son. They claim to be HOMELESS because their sign will lead you to believe that.
    These two have turned down help and viable jobs from numerous people because they can make more money panhandling, don’t pay any taxes and can stay STONED!!!!!!!
    Do you really think that kind of person and so many more that choose that life will actually tell The Coalition the TRUTH?????
    WHY FEED INTO THEIR LINE OF BULL?????
    I personally have health issues but still hold down two jobs and am starting a small business.
    The answer, they are nothing but freeloaders!!!! They have figured out that FORT COLLINS will give them anything they want. Why should they work?
    PLEASE DON’T ALLOW OUR BEAUTIFUL CITY to become, even more over run by worthless, laxy, druggies!!!!!

    Reply
  • E

    Elijah JohnApr 20, 2016 at 9:40 am

    In this supposedly “Christian” nation, people can’t figure out how to give charity to those most in need; those on the street? They need rehab; they need mental health care; they need physical health care; they need low-cost housing; they need JOBS. Instead, Fort Collins city council is going to turn them into a revenue stream?

    Nobody on city council deserves to be there unless they can come up with a plan to get the homeless off the streets and into a program that gets them the mental and physical health care that they need. From there they can be re-integrated into society. Build low-cost housing. From there, put these people to work. Picking up trash/cleaning public areas, agricultural projects, wildlife relocation, etc. Work with them until they are drug/alcohol free, mentally and physically healthy. Then charge rent. It’ll take a while, but eventually the low-cost housing and rehab programs will be paid off, and you’ll have no homeless population, a cleaner city and a clean conscience. What’s more, you’ll be a beacon for the rest for the rest of the so-called “civilized” world that treats some people like they’re human refuse to be collected into shelter bins.

    These are supposed to be the logistical problems that elected leaders are fixing. Why are they unable to do so? Pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, too much TV/radio. They can’t pull their heads out of their own little bubbles long enough to have compassion for people. Jesus Christ would rebuke them. God smiles not on those who neglect those struggling in their society. Stop acting like homelessness is the disease. The lack of responsibility on city council is what’s virulent and contagious, not to mention the utter complacency of the constituency that turns a blind eye to the suffering of their fellow human beings. For shame.

    Reply
    • R

      ReidApr 20, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Regretfully these homeless can’t even pick up their own trash let alone others. (If you don’t believe me go look at the situation behind the Riverside Shelter.). How would you stop FC becoming a target for all the homeless in Colorado if you provide “low cost housing” and who pays for this? Getting all wound up about “shelter bins” and invoking God and Jesus doesn’t help anyone. For a strat find out how many homeless live in Loveland and Greeley and compare with Fort Collins – then you would know if we are attracting people with our policies or not.

      By the way have you tried to find a comfy seat in downtown library lately? thought not.

      Chris

      Reply
    • D

      Denise WrightApr 21, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Has it EVER entered your mind that not all people are GOD LOVING, HONEST PEOPLE??? If these truly homeless people need, and will WORK TOWARDS helping themselves then they should prove it. Instead of spending their time hanging out at Parks all day.
      I wish I could live in your Dream World but I work 2 job’s today!!!!

      Reply