(The Center Square) – Jon Caldara, who heads a free-market think tank located in Denver, put human excrement on the steps of the Denver City and County Building in protest of the city’s homeless problem.
Caldara said his non-profit has to deal with human excrement, used drug needles, condoms and trash on its premises on E. 16th Street in the city.
The CEO of the Independence Institute made his statement on the same day the City Council overviewed plans to spend $10 million dealing with the homeless issues. That includes a $6.4 million contract with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to be used for outreach to the city’s homeless encampments. The City Council will vote on the contract on Oct. 2.
The city plans to spend half of the $48.6 million budgeted for its homeless plan on purchasing and operating a former hotel, additional leases, and operating costs, as previously reported by The Center Square.
The city’s Department of Housing Stability is working on a five-year strategic plan to reduce the number of homeless individuals.
As of January 2023, there were 5,818 people experiencing homelessness in Denver – 4,395 in shelter systems and 1,423 unsheltered, with growing homeless encampments on the streets across the city, according to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.
The same day Caldara took to the steps of city hall, crews in Denver cleaned up a homeless encampment on the city streets of 8th Avenue and Logan Street after Mayor Mike Johnston offered the individuals the opportunity to move into tiny home communities or hotel units.
Johnston has pledged to help 1,000 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to be moved indoors by the end of the year and another 1,000 next year, the city said in an email to The Center Square.
Caldara said the homeless should be held accountable for the messes they make.
“There is no reason that the streets of Denver have to look like a third world city in this beautiful first world state,” Caldara told The Center Square. “People are scared because they think people are being mean to the homeless. But the fact of the matter is our leaders are being mean to the law-abiding. And it’s time where we collectively say, quite literally, we’ve had enough of this sh**.
“I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t my poop and I have to clean it up anyway, and so the point is the people who caused this problem are not just the homeless who use private property and trespass as their bathrooms and party houses but the people in that building who don’t enforce the laws, those who don’t police the problem, we can call the police, but they don’t do anything about it nor can they, and so maybe the people who caused the problem should start cleaning it up,” Caldara said.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was critical of Caldara’s approach.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Caldara, a housed person with enormous privilege, has chosen to denigrate and stigmatize those that are less fortunate and forced to sleep and survive on the streets because housing is unaffordable and unattainable for them,” said Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the nonprofit. “Instead of pulling cheap political stunts with trash and human waste from who knows where, we’d encourage Mr. Caldera to engage in meaningful conversations about solutions-driven approaches to homelessness like greater investments in long-term supportive housing and services for the unhoused community.”