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Denver Targets Homeless With Proposal To 'Ban Unauthorized Camping,' Critics Say

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/28/2012 10:05 am Updated: 03/28/2012 11:09 am

Denver Homeless
Homeless U.S. military veterans stand in line to receive free services at a "Stand Down" event hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on November 3, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (AP)

A major American city wants to make it illegal to sleep on the streets.

Denver's City Council is considering an ordinance to "ban unauthorized camping" throughout the city, the Denver Post reports. The bill would make it illegal for hundreds of homeless people to sleep outside in tents or sleeping bags in the city.

The decision would come at a time when Denver has cut homeless aid, even as the number of homeless in Denver and around the country grows. Indeed, homelessness continued to rise in cities across the country in 2011, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Critics say that the bill would criminalize homelessness, the Denver Post reports. These homeless people may have nowhere to go as Denver's shelters are largely full, and many are set to close or have fewer beds by this summer, according to the Denver Post.

You can read the full article in the Denver Post here.

The bill could have consequences not only for the homeless, but also for Occupy protesters. City police evicted protesters from a tent city last October, closing the park indefinitely at the time. Some expect an Occupy comeback in New York and across the country this spring.

Denver isn't the only city with controversial policies towards its homeless population. The United Nations wrote in an August report that U.S. cities' provisions for homeless people violate international human rights standards. The right to safe drinking water and restrooms is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and many homeless people in the U.S. cannot access restrooms or running water.

A Maryland county has ordered a tent city in Glen Burnie, Maryland, to relocate by April 4, according to The Capital. Sacramento officials shut down a tent city in their city in 2009, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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