FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Homeless in Boulder

And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.

William Wordsworth, Guilt and Sorrow

Once again the homeless are in the news and, as always, the question is what to do with them. The solutions are not always obvious but the attempts can be described as nothing, if not creative and in many cases the National Park Service’s treatment of bears has offered guidance.

Those with long memories will recall the town in Florida that treated the homeless by following the example of Yellowstone National Park. Rangers in Yellowstone relocate unwanted bears far from where they are picked up hoping that once relocated they will not return to the places from which they have been taken. The Florida town picked up the homeless from tourist areas and moved them to outlying areas hoping that the relocated homeless would enjoy the fruits of their relocation even though none of the fruits included a home. I have been unable to determine how successful that program was. In all events, towns today continue to follow the example set by the rangers in Yellowstone.

According to Change.org, many communities have adopted rules that not only ban begging but ban furnishing food to the homeless, a practice followed in national parks with bears In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an ordinance was adopted that prohibits sharing food with the homeless in public parks. In Phoenix zoning laws were invoked to shut down a church that was serving breakfast to the homeless and others. Gainesville, Florida restricts the number of people soup kitchens can serve even though the number is less than the facility can comfortably accommodate.

Miami is considering an ordinance that would require people who distribute food to the homeless to go through formal training instructing them on how to ensure the food they are serving is safe and how to clean up the mess left behind. Those serving food would also have to provide a portable restroom and on-site sink. That will eliminate those serving food from the backs of vehicles and in parks. Although neither bears nor the homeless are going to cease being nuisances as a result of these compassionate and enlightened approaches to the problems they each pose, it is at least a way of addressing the issue that may encourage the homeless to go and find a home.

Enlightened though those approaches are, none can hold a candle to the approach favored by a town that has been described in this space and elsewhere as a perfect town. Its residents are educated and compassionate and live in beautiful houses, many of which replaced tiny houses that people lived in before they realized how much nicer it was to live in very big houses. That town is in Colorado and its name is Boulder.

Like other affluent communities, Boulder’s pristine quality and virtually perfect ambience is slightly tarnished by the presence of the homeless. Its council, in its wisdom, has devised a way of dealing with them that is far more creative than the limits on their feeding imposed by other communities. It has banned camping, something bears are permitted to do, so long as they are not in the vicinity of humans and campgrounds.

Most people think of camping as a pleasant adventure that families do with children on summer vacation. The wise rulers in Boulder, however, have come up with a definition that redefines “camping.” “Camping” in Boulder does not require pitching a tent or cooking “smores” over a campfire. All that is required is that the person lie down on city property “with shelter.” “Shelter” includes “any cover or protection from the elements other than clothing.” Thus, a homeless person who lies down and places a blanket over him or herself or climbs into a sleeping bag has taken “shelter” and violated the ordinance and the offender can be ticketed and fined or jailed.

Boulder, like many communities, lacks sufficient adequate housing for the homeless. From October 15 through December 31, 2009, 333 homeless people were turned away from the homeless shelter because of lack of space. One of those people was David Madison. The temperature, when he was denied shelter was 11 degrees. Mr. Madison took himself to a public place, lay down and crawled into a sleeping bag in order to keep from freezing. He was ticketed and convicted of violating the camping ban. He is not the first to be ticketed.

Since Boulder is such a perfect place its police have little to do. Accordingly, they have had the time to issue tickets to those who violate the no camping ban and since 2006 have issued 1,650 tickets to homeless people who violated the “no-camping” ordinance.

There is a bright side to being homeless in Boulder. It is OK for its residents to offer them food.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:
September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail