The Dark Side of Homelessness – Longmont Times-Call


On August 5, a revealing and mind-boggling article appeared in the Longmont Times-Call. He reported that Denver’s annual per capita spending on the homeless is at least double the annual cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Denver of around $ 20,000, possibly much more. The homeless population in the city and its adjacent metropolitan area is difficult to measure because it is constantly changing.

Broadly speaking, homeless people include people who have no legal right or license to occupy residential accommodation, regardless of the circumstances. The “homeless” are a specific subgroup of the homeless. They live in places not intended for human habitation, including cars, parks and sidewalks. They encroach on open land, abandoned or vacant structures. Many assume that homeless people have poor physical hygiene, are neglected and plagued with disease. They live in poverty, in rigged slums without sanitation facilities stinking of excrement and bristling with contaminated hypodermic needles and syringes. Their domain endangers the health and safety of the public. This writing does not apply to the unfortunate victims of homelessness due to domestic violence, illness, disability, unemployment or pervasive economic problems beyond their control. There are government, social and charitable programs and resources to address urgent housing needs, postpone evictions, provide emergency interim rent assistance, and subsidies to maintain or restore housing.

Although the conditions favoring homelessness are not limited to current economic hardships, the proliferation of homeless people and squatters is considerably high. Judicial opinions strengthening constitutional civil rights owed to homeless people, as legislation enabling compliance, have unwittingly served to dramatically worsen the plight of homeless people.

1) In 1970, the Colorado Supreme Court declared Colorado’s vagrancy law unconstitutional. He foresaw: “Anyone capable of working and supporting themselves in an honest and respectable profession, who will be found loitering or walking around, frequenting public places, or where alcohol is sold, begging or leading an idle life, immoral or debauchery, or having no visible means of subsistence, will be considered a vagrant. The vagrancy law was considered legally invalid because it was so vague that it sent individuals to the wrong side of the criminal justice system on the basis of arbitrary and poorly specified criteria. He failed to report conduct constituting a criminal offense. The vagrancy laws are a trap for social pariahs, criminalizing lifestyle and status, and facilitating prejudice and discriminatory enforcement.

2) In 1979, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision changing the burden of proof necessary for an involuntary civil recognizance. He shifted the burden of proof from a “preponderance of evidence” (more likely) to a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence”. The Protocol for Involuntary Civilian Engagement in Colorado allows police or medical professionals to detain a person only if emergency detention is necessary to protect them from mental health issues so severe that they display dangerous behavior towards them. themselves or others, or helplessness and inability to provide for themselves. basic daily needs, leading to a risk of “essential damage” if immediate care is not provided. Antisocial and eccentric behaviors often fall short of these rigid standards, although they are indicative of mental illness. Well-founded emergency detention can last up to 72 hours and cannot be extended for a period of imprisonment or longer treatment than after a court hearing assisted by a lawyer. Extensions are conditional on ongoing periodic judicial reviews. Only the least restrictive institutional and involuntary therapeutic treatment protocols can be ordered.

Homeless people naturally suffer from an increased incidence of mental distress due to the “normal” pressures of being homeless. Up to 92% of chronically unprotected people have psychopathy from a severe mental disorder. In addition, 38% are alcoholics, 26% drug addicts, which, overall, significantly aggravates the problem.

The legal standards and conditions protecting the basic civil rights of homeless people have had unintended negative consequences. These also negatively affect the communities in which homeless people reside. There are no alternative remedies in place to resolve the dilemma. The plight of homeless people living on the streets is much worse than involuntary and clinically appropriate treatment in a mental institution. The due process rights of homeless people must be reconsidered to conform to humanity.

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