AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Aurora's mayor isn't backing away from proposing a camping ban, but how it fits into the city's larger plan to address homelessness is still dividing people. Mayor Mike Coffman proposed the ban on Monday through a series of tweets, advocates and disapproving city councilors have scoffed at the proposal ever since.
"I don't want homeless people spread out throughout the city and that's the reason for a ban, a camping ban, but you do have to be compliant with case law," Coffman said on Tuesday. "I think the greater cost is the economic damage that it does to the city, that it does to the neighborhoods they're adjacent to, the damage to the businesses in our city."
Coffman says he's seen first-hand how addiction has caused a cycle of homelessness and believes the city needs a tool to get people out of encampment and moving toward services.
He also believes cities and counties will soon be overwhelmed with federal dollars to address homelessness.
"We need to encourage them to seek treatment, to get them job training, to get them to jobs where they can afford stable housing," Coffman said.
"He's pursuing policy that has been a demonstrable failure in Denver, and I don't understand why on earth we would want to replicate that failure here and basically set money on fire doing absolutely nothing," said Council member Juan Marcano.
Homeless advocates and several members of the Aurora City Council believe a camping ban is the wrong direction for the city to pursue.
"It breaks the trust of the unhoused community or not just breaks, but undermines it if it was even there to begin with," Marcano said. "We do need a regional approach to actually address this."
Aurora is moving forward with efforts to address homelessness in the short term, a plan Coffman says he can see helping the city.
"A designated area where they can have clean water, where they can have sanitation, toilets, where they can have shower facilities. Where they can have services, whether it's mental health or job training, treatment to become sober. To be able to move them on and out of homelessness and into permanent housing," Coffman said.
Community members are invited to come see versions of tiny homes, safe camping paces and shelter for individuals on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Restoration Christian Fellowship located at 15660 E. Sixth Ave., Aurora, CO 80011 in the northeast side of the parking lot.
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