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Concern mounts about growing tent city in Curtis Park, residents ask city for homeless porta-potties

Public Health officials, city monitor conditions
Posted: 8:17 PM, Apr 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-19 02:25:06Z
Curtis Park Historic District

DENVER -- Residents in Curtis Park and Five Points say they've seen a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people moving into their neighborhoods.

The evidence is apparent at the corner of 27th and Arapahoe St. and along the 2400 block of Lawrence street, where numerous tents have been set up on grassy areas between the sidewalk and curb.

Residents are also seeing more garbage and human waste.

"They're going to the bathroom in our alleys, and on our parkways," Curtis Park resident Matina Soutsos said. "It's a health problem."

Homeless Tent City at 2400 Lawrence
Tent City in Curtis Park

Soutsos told Denver7 the city needs to do more to help the homeless.

"Their solution is just to house people at night, or put them on buses at night in deplorable conditions, and we can do better," she said.

Neighbor Eilie Feltman said until there is a long-term solution to homelessness in Denver, the city should focus on short-term action.

"We have an immediate need for a portable restroom, mobile toilets, hygiene stations, trash receptacles and regular pickup," Feltman said.

Teresa Antrillo agrees. She's lived on the streets for several years.

Antrillo was among a group of homeless people who were "relocated" during the city's last homeless sweep.

"It's really hard," she said, "because they closed off the other area, without letting anybody know."

Antrillo said she felt apologetic.

"I can't blame the neighbors really, because they're paying high prices for these places," she said. "The city is pushing all the homeless down here."

Curtis Park Historic District

Scott Frank, the owner and manager of Savoy at Curtis Park, a historic building housing a ballroom dance floor, social space and lounge, said Denver needs to do better as a city to help the homeless.

"For decades, we haven't done anything," Frank said. "What's it going to take for us to wake up and think about affordable housing?"

Soutsos says many homeless people refuse to use shelters for a variety of reasons.

"Most of the shelters are faith-based," she said, "some people can't get in because they're addicted to drugs or alcohol, or they have a girlfriend that they're not married to."

"That needs to change," Frank said. "The city needs to make services more accessible. Until we do that, nothing is going to change. Arguing about what's happening on the corner is a smoke screen for the larger issue."

Safety

Both Denver Police and Public Health officials are keeping an eye on the tent cities, and both entities were at both locations, twice on Thursday.

Health officials say they hear what residents are saying and are closely monitoring conditions at both locations.

They say they will take appropriate action when necessary.