RESURRECTION VILLAGE RISES AGAIN!

Resurrection Village Rises Again! 

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December 2015

With snow falling, tents are rising at our new Resurrection Village location!

Tonight, despite the Urban Camping Ban, we set up tents on this land because it is snowing and we who are houseless must stay warm and dry somehow. Meanwhile, all over the city there is public land–land on which in many cases there used to be affordable housing–land which now sits vacant or is being sold to private developers. We have a responsibility to use this public land to meet the public need!

We’ve relocated after being forced from our stopgap tent community at 26th and Arapahoe by the Denver Police Department and TreeHouse Brokerage (the private developer who bought the land from the Denver Housing Authority–DHA). Our new home is at 24th St between California and Stout–another vacant plot of land owned by DHA since 1979.

DHA’s original plan for this land, in keeping with its stated mission, was to put up a large apartment building to provide desperately-needed low-income housing here. But instead, bowing to pressure from the gentrifying Curtis Park neighborhood, it has allowed this land to sit empty for 36 years, right in the midst of thousands of homeless people who crowd into shelters and sleep on the streets every night–many of whom lived in this very neighborhood before losing their housing. The plan the neighborhood now favors is for DHA to sell this land to a private developer for creation of market-rate housing.

But we have another idea for this lot–one much more in line with DHA’s mission. Why not use it to provide a home for Resurrection Village–a community of cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and easy to construct tiny homes to be inhabited and run by those of us who are currently houseless? Tonight we just have tents–but soon we could be sleeping in our own tiny homes!

Yet DHA is not to blame for our current crisis of homelessness–or for the lack of affordable housing that has given rise to this crisis. The root cause is the drastic reduction in federal low income housing funding to Denver and nationwide, which began in the late 1970’s. Between  1978 and 1983, HUD’s budget authority was slashed from $83 billion to $17.6 billion (in 2004 constant dollars). The same year these cuts were finalized, the federal government responded to the emergence of massive visible street homelessness by building large emergency shelters across the country (the first federal response to homelessness since the great depression). Since then federal funding for affordable and low income housing has stayed at a constant low.

Between 1995 and 2011, 290,588 existing units of public housing and 360,000 Section 8 units have been lost–with many thousands more units being demolished or turned into market-based housing every year. (Meanwhile since 2011 830,000 new jail and prison cells have been created.) HUD funding for new public housing units the most permanent form of low income housing–has been zero since 1996. Just between 2010 and 2014, DHA and the City of Denver had to make do with a 31% decrease in HUD funding–even while rapidly rising housing costs and a slow economy have led to unprecedented levels of poverty and homelessness among us.

Ultimately, if we are serious about ending the housing crisis, all of us–in Denver and nationwide–must unite to demand the full restoration of federal funding for affordable housing and the provision of housing to all who need it.

Meanwhile, we pledge to continue working with City Council and city officials to designate land and legalize the existence of Resurrection Village as a sustainable, self-governed community. Until we can build our own tiny homes, we will continue to be homeless, to live in public spaces, and to do all we can to help our neighbors who must sleep outside to stay alive.

We invite and encourage everyone who shares our dream to support our efforts to make Resurrection Village a reality! Donate food, warm clothing, tents, blankets, sleeping bags and other items to help us survive outside! Tell Mayor Hancock, City Council members, and DHA to help us obtain land and the legal right for Resurrection Village to exist in Denver! Tell the Denver Police Department to stop harassing us and to let us survive on public land in the best way we can!

www.denverhomelessoutloud.org

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Resurrection Village Forced Down by Police, Betrayed by Treehouse Development

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Last night, December 3rd 2015, roughly 30 people were kicked out of their newly found homes and community at Resurrection Village. We were told by police that we could not protect ourselves from the cold with tents, blankets, and anything but our cloths. All they ask is that we disappear.

It is a sad day for us at Resurrection Village. We started the day in high spirits when we heard today that a negotiation was struck between Treehouse Development and Resurrection Village. What was promised was that we would have two and a half weeks to move Resurrection Village to a new home. Needless to say we were ecstatic to be able to not have our Village wiped out. However it appears we have been betrayed by Treehouse.

Ask anyone living at Resurrection Village why they are there and you will see what this village is and why it must exist. A place where I can stay with my wife. A community that supports me getting off drugs. Somewhere to get enough sleep before going to work. Somewhere I can stay warm and have privacy in my tent. People taking care of others is what it is. But this is not allowed.

But as Martin Luther King Jr said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” The urban camping ban is not only unjust, it is impossible. We do not have homes. We have to sleep somewhere. The 2015 Point In Time Count, known to be an under-count but which is the number used by the city and HUD to count people experiencing homelessness, counted 6,130 people experiencing homelessness in Denver metro area. No matter how you count the number of shelter beds, even with the most liberal counts, that means there are at least a thousand people in the Denver metro area who must sleep outside. The option is cover yourself and break the law, or freeze.

In January the Right to Rest Act will be going before the Colorado State legislator, sponsored by Representatives Salazar and Melton. This bill would, among other basic human rights, give all Coloradans the right to rest in public space and protect oneself from the elements. As we work to address our housing crisis, we must also work to create a city and state where people have the right to survive.

Resurrection Village is not dead. Whether some people join together to try not to freeze with a few blankets, or we have 20 tents and 30 people taking care of each other, or whether we have a village of Tiny Homes, we remain strong as Resurrection Village.

Stay tuned for updates…

COPS STOLE OUR HOMES!

Give them back!

If you are interested in getting involved, please go to denverhomelessoutloud.org

or call 720-940-5291

or email info@denverhomelessoutloud.org

or

Camp out in front of our locked up village:

Resurrection Village

2500 Lawrence Street

Denver, CO 80205

Our Demands

  1. Legalize Tiny Homes in Denver – A cheap, sustainable, and attractive solution for many.
  2. Set Aside Publicly Owned Land for Tiny Homes and people experiencing homelessness -Public Assets Should Be Used For The Public Good – we don’t need our public land sold to private developers to build condos when we are in an affordable housing crisis. We need a Tiny Home Village run by and for people experiencing homelessness.

Further more Denver must…

3. End the Criminalization of Homelessness – Repeal all laws which infringe on people’s rights to move freely, rest, sleep and protect oneself from the elements, sleep in your legally parked vehicle, and eat in public spaces. 

4. Stop Displacing Urban Farmers – keep the few urban farms we have in Denver Functioning (stop selling public land to private developers).

5. Adequately Fund Affordable Housing Development – We need real funding for our current crisis. Not just small ‘rotating funds’ for workforce housing. We need to fully refund our affordable housing budget on a federal, state and local level.

“We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on. People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way…and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.'” – Martin Luther King Jr., Speaking about Resurrection City