Denver has its share of vagrants. The rule is evidently that you can illegally camp on the sidewalk and poop in the gutter until a lot of people complain. Once dozens or hundreds of people complain – they don’t publish what the requisite number is – the city will tell the vagrants they have two weeks to shuffle down the road to trash some other site.
What the vagrants then do, naturally, is leave for a few days and then come back to the same place again, where they stay again until enough people complain again and they get the two weeks’ notice again and then they leave for a few days again. I’d say it’s a case of rinse and repeat, except these feral humans have not seen a rinse in months.
The vagrants are offered shelter in several vagrant shelters, but typically refuse to go there unless it gets very cold, which in Denver it fortunately sometimes does.
The city council sees this as a problem, but not in the way you would assume. The problem they see is not that there are too many vagrants panhandling and pooping up the downtown. It’s that there are too few.
So they’re addressing that problem. They formally approved a plan to pay people $1,000/month to be vagrants. This is in addition to the $40,000 to $100,000 per year per vagrant that they’re already spending on vagrancy according to a non-partisan research organization. (The number is inexact because it’s hard to get a fix on how many vagrants there are.) To put that figure in perspective, it’s two to six times what Denver spends per pupil per year on schools.
I should pause to mention that the city council wokesters don’t call the vagrants “vagrants” because that word connotes dirty, panhandling, substance-abusing, mentally ill drifters. For a while, they instead called them “homeless people” but they dropped that phrase when it came to connote dirty, panhandling, substance-abusing, mentally ill drifters. The nom du jure is now “people experiencing homelessness” which I expect to last only until that phrase comes to connote dirty, panhandling, substance-abusing, mentally ill drifters.
Back to the incentive program to recruit additional vagrants. City council will pay vagrants $1,000/month but there’s a condition. The vagrant must be either a woman, a transgender, or a “gender non-conforming” person, which is apparently a person who does not conform to his/her true gender (but doesn’t that impermissibly admit that people have true genders?). Straight white and black men need not apply.
It’s a little like Harvard’s reverse discrimination in admissions, except at Harvard it’s whites and Asians who need not apply. The Supreme Court will strike down Harvard’s racial discrimination in a case this term, but that will only make Harvard sneakier with it.
Like Harvard’s program, Denver’s program is obviously illegal. City council probably knows that, but the approach of the left these days is to knowingly and delightedly commit illegalities in the name of justice until a court orders them to stop, and maybe after then as well.
The theory behind Denver’s sexual discrimination is that the chosen groups are especially vulnerable. So why don’t they use the free shelters? And since they don’t use the free shelters, what makes anyone think that they’ll use the free $1,000/month to get shelter?
As for their vulnerability, women living on the street are indeed vulnerable. But what about transgenders and gender non-conformists? Is there any data suggesting that they’re more vulnerable on the street?
By the way, since when is the left concerned about the vulnerability of people on the street anyway? If they are concerned about that, why did they defund the police?
I once played around with vagrancy because I was curious who these people were and what their lives were like. I made a sign saying “Survived Cancer but Lost my Job.” (The sign was technically true, but misleading.) I stood with my sign outside the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. After an hour of being studiously ignored and just before I was about to quit for the day to go into the hotel for a nice single malt, sans sign, a person stuffed a bill in my hand. “Thanks,” I said. As he walked away, I saw that it was a Benjamin.
I tried to return the $100 to him, but he refused to take it back, saying “I’m just sorry to see you in this predicament.” I sheepishly walked down the block and donated the money to the local Catholic Church, asking that it be used for their vagrancy services. (I’m aware of only one vagrant in Aspen apart from the Aspen city council. Everyone called him “the homeless guy.” I haven’t seen him in a while.)
In the course of my investigation, I learned that even the shelters – maybe especially the shelters – urge people not to give cash handouts to vagrants. That’s because it enables their life of destructive vagrancy. They ask that you give money instead to the shelters so that it can be used for shelter, food, counseling and rehab rather than for alcohol and drugs. That sounds self-serving, but it makes sense.
Denver seems not to recognize that paying people money to be vagrants with no strings attached, other than to claim that they are a woman or a cross-dresser, will not cure them of their vagrancy, but will instead enable them to continue it, perhaps with a new dress.
This program undoubtedly makes some virtue signalers feel good about themselves, but it’s all at the expense of both the taxpayers and the vagrants. Shame on Denver city council.