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"Tough Love" measures meant to reduce homelessness in Colorado city of Aurora

Aurora city leaders continue to push for "tough love" approach to homelessness
Aurora city leaders continue to push for "tough love" approach to homelessness 02:27

City council members are moving forward with measures meant to reduce homelessness in Aurora. Mayor Mike Coffman calls it a "Tough Love" approach.


The goal is to get people off the streets, while offering resources through a new court. 

The city will create a specialized court to handle low-level offenses -- such as violating the trespass ordinance, illegal drug possession, or retail theft -- by individuals experiencing homelessness. The city says this will address the underlying causes of homelessness, instead of cycling individuals between the streets and jail.

The H.E.A.R.T. Court (Housing, Employment, Addiction, Recovery, and Teamwork) would place offenders on probation with a court-ordered requirements such as their participation in an addiction recovery program, mental health treatment, or job training. Participants will also have access to shelter, with services, in one of Aurora's two pallet home communities.
With a successful completion of the court-ordered requirements, all changes are dropped at the end of the probation period.

If they miss their court date, they would be subject to arrest.

"Ultimately, we want people to accept services and help within our city. We want them to become well, to experience healing and recovery, and ultimately get back into society," Councilman Steve Sundberg.

Sundberg says encampments also pose a threat to public safety, from fire danger to biohazards.

RELATED: Business owner victimized by people in a nearby encampment in Aurora 

A second ordinance passed Monday would strengthen laws against urban camping.

It's common for an unauthorized camp to be re-populated shortly after it has been abated. The city says additional provisions are necessary in the unauthorized camping ordinances to encourage people to seek offered shelter.

Changes would include adding areas that are "Closed to Camping" to the city code.

"Very defined 'No Trespassing' signage would be placed in sensitive areas such as fire hazard areas, tall grass, dry spots, the High Line Canal," said Sundberg. "There are safety issues that we hear from our residents. Camping within these waterways, chronic trespassing. We just want to clearly define in these areas that there is no camping and then enforce that rapidly if needed."

Notice requirements would not apply to an unauthorized camp in an area Closed to Camping. Signs that will be posted, advising the location is an area Closed to Camping, would serve as sufficient notice. The unauthorized camp would immediately be abated, and occupants would be guided to resources.

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