Yesterday, January 29th, City Council had the final hearing and vote on the No Freezing Sweeps bill. Council passed the No Freezing Sweeps bill 7-6! This is a huge win for houseless people of Denver…!! However, because we did not get the 9 votes needed to prevent the Mayor from having an opportunity to veto the bill, we need everyone to jump into action emailing the Mayor TODAY!!
On the campaign trail, Mayor Johnston committed to not support freezing sweeps. He is on camera standing with other candidates when asked if they would support ending sweeps under 32 degrees. Watch Video Here https://youtu.be/kcYQs0Ym3T4
Now that he is in office that commitment has apparently gone to the wayside. While we were crafting this No Freezing Sweeps bill this fall, the bill sponsors met with Mayor Johnston showing him draft language of the bill and asking for his stance. At that time he made no indication of opposing the bill – instead he gave some suggested amendments which the sponsors took into new versions of the bill. Then, the night before the bill went to committee hearing, the Mayor sent a letter to Council out of nowhere opposing the bill.
This is a bad faith move. And vetoing the bill, after promising on campaign trail to support it, would be a hypocritical act we should not be expecting of our elected officials.
The opposition the Mayor has put out against this bill is based on lies.
First he is trying to say that this bill will prevent him from executing his “house” 1000 initiative in the winter. This is not true at all. There is nothing in this bill that prevents the City from offering and providing hotels, housing, or other such resources to houseless people in the cold weather. In fact, quite the opposite, this bill help enable houseless people to go inside in the cold due to not having the worry about sweeps. As for the “house” 1000 initiative, just because there is not a sweep the day they come through to offer hotel or micro units to people does not stop people from moving to these indoor units! Last year, at least one “decommissioning” was scheduled for a very cold day, and so instead outreach came days early to move people into the hotel prior to the cold – and the residents of that camp did move into the hotel still – regardless of a forced sweep. The argument that you have to use a forced sweep to move people into hotel/micro units goes entirely against the Mayor’s message that 98% of camp residents have wanted to move into the hotels and done so voluntarily.
Another argument the Mayor is trying to make against the bill is to say it will prevent clearing passageways if someone is sent up in a tent or structure blocking the sidewalk – making it hard for wheelchairs to get by. This is again totally false. The No Freezing Sweeps bill does not prevent the enforcement of the obstruction law. This is a totally different law not included in the bill. Yet, the Mayor is trying to use this to oppose a bill to stop forcing people to move and taking their only property to survive in freezing temperatures.
The other statements the Mayor is making against the bill is basically just to say he wants to be able to enforce the camping ban, encumbrance (aka sweep) law, and public health order – which are the only three laws listed in the bill – anytime regardless of the cold.
The Mayor could veto the No Freezing Sweeps bill anytime as soon as today or until Saturday. He needs to hear from you today on why he should let the majority vote of City Council stand and not keep the inhumane practice of sweeping houseless people to nowhere in freezing cold. We are literally talking about simply holding off on forcing people to move or taking their property until it is above 32 degrees. We are talking about letting people with no housing, no warmth, keep the only gear they have to stay warm when it is freezing. We are talking about saving lives and limbs.
Contact the Mayor TODAY
No More Freezing Sweeps…
Housekeys Action Network Denver
Towards rights, dignity, housing…