Media flurry surrounding the homeless at the DNC

Two weeks after The Colorado Independent first hashed out the city’s plan for the homeless during the Democratic National Convention, others have jumped on the story, with both the Denver Post and 5280 Magazine noting that Denver won’t bus homeless people out of town for the DNC. On the contrary, homeless advocates plan to provide big-screen TVs so their clients can view the convention from shelters, and they are also organizing a voter registration drive for the homeless. Thursday’s Post also included an op-ed by the three main sources from the Post’s news story: Jamie Van Leeuwen of Denver’s Road Home, Deborah Dilley with the Denver Police Department, and John Parvensky of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. This piece reiterated the original message: Denver won’t hide its homeless during the DNC.

Yet the recent articles glossed over–or didn’t mention–the concerns of Randle Loeb, a formerly homeless person who questions whether the city is taking the right approach to the DNC by providing fun and games and not better services. Loeb keeps a blog over at the Urban Spectrum, Denver’s newspaper regarding people of color, and last week he expressed his frustration with the city’s plans. In the following passage, he refers to a quote of his in the original Colorado Independent article, in which he worried that the city was "sugarcoating" homelessness.

"Denver has always been good about registering homeless people to vote thanks to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. They have registered people to vote for twenty-five years. It has nothing to do with Denver’s Road Home. Of course homeless people with their stuff on their back will be held suspect. If you have no ID then you may be subject to search or worse with national security protocol? Maybe instead of bothering about one’s credibility to use the word "sugarcoat" Denver’s Road Home should plan a communication campaign focusing on helping people who are homeless not be targeted. We are all targets in the post 9/11 world."

In the same posting, Loeb criticizes Dilley of the Denver Police Department for her assertion in the Colorado Independent article, expressing concern that protesters may pay homeless people to join in their protests. 

"If a person who happens to be poor is offered money to stand with a sign about something they don’t believe in, at least the person can be paid," writes Loeb. "Is Denver’s Road Home giving out cash?"

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Naomi Zeveloff

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