Park Hill Residents tried to prevent a homeless camp from setting up shop at a local church, but the court recently dismissed their suit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many parts of society, including the homeless population. Some, like Pastor Nathan Adam of Park Hill United Methodist Church in Colorado, are trying to help unhoused individuals. On Easter Sunday of this year, he teamed up with the non-profit Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) with the goal of helping the “homeless by creating camps in the church’s parking lot to house those in need for up to six months.”
When commenting on the matter, Pastor Adam said the camps to help the homeless are “an extension of the work that God is calling us to do, to love our neighbors. But specifically to love our most vulnerable neighbors.” However, not everyone is happy about the Pastor’s work. In fact, Park Hill residents are so upset that they recently filed a lawsuit against the pastor, the non-profit, the city, and the church in an effort to “prevent the camps from being set up at the church.”
The lawsuit was filed in Denver District Court and argues the “site poses a danger to children, does not meet city requirements and does not address the impact it will have on the neighborhood.” One angry resident said, “If I wanted to live in downtown Denver with homelessness in my face every day, with people sleeping on my patio or going to the bathroom on my garage, I would live downtown.” The lawsuit, however, was dismissed and the camps are expected to be fully established on June 14.
In response to the concerns from residents, the church and non-profit assured them that they will not allow “people with histories of violence or sexual assault into the camps.” Pastor Adam hopes this will help “ensure the safety of everyone, including children, who are the main concern of the lawsuit.”
In addition to providing shelter, the camps would provide food and water and give unhoused people a safe, temporary place to stay. According to Pastor Adam and the non-profit, the camp would include “temporarily managed campsites with on-site portable sinks, showers, and bathrooms.” The camp will be staffed 24/7 and provide resources to help individuals get back on their feet. The camp at North Cap Hill has already been used in the past for large-scale operations, including daily COVID-19 symptom screenings. At those screenings, there were also case managers on-site with resources for mental health, physical health, employment, and life skills assistance.
So far, the camps have successfully helped many of the unhoused find permanent housing and other needs. Since opening, 25 people have completed housing applications, “seven of which are currently preparing to move from the Safe Outdoor Space to long-term housing.”
Unfortunately, housing is lacking in the U.S. and home prices are soaring across much of the country. The pandemic has only made this issue worse and highlighted the need for programs like the one Pastor Adam is operating.