Peter Droege

Peter Droege

“Seattle is Dying,” a local news report on the violent crime, homelessness and drug abuse overwhelming the Emerald City, has sparked a national debate over misguided policies that are unleashing death and mayhem on communities across our country.

Denver is now ground zero for those seeking to advance policies that have turned parks and streets in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle into dangerous homeless encampments strewn with trash, needles and human feces.

Two dangerous initiatives will be on the May ballot in Denver, designed to prevent police from enforcing laws that protect the health and safety of residents.

The ballot in Denver will include Issue 300, which would legalize “camping” in parks and in vehicles on public streets, including in front of homes and businesses. Before voting on this beauty, consider the impact on your child’s field trip to the parks surrounding the Denver Zoo, Museum of Nature of Science, and State Capitol.

The Denver ballot also includes the “Psilocybin Initiative,” which would decriminalize “magic mushrooms” that cause hallucinations, panic attacks and psychosis, not unlike the effects of LSD. This one will make the increase in emergency room visits and fatal car accidents following the legalization of marijuana seem like a walk in the park. Just watch out for the needles and human feces in said park.

During the years I spent helping addicts get off the streets and into safe, supportive programs, I saw the damage done by activists who claimed they could solve Denver’s homeless problem if only they were given vast sums of taxpayer dollars.

Make no mistake, these initiatives are not designed to solve problems, but to turn our streets and parks into dystopian urban nightmares. Once people no longer feel safe and property values are plummeting, the activists will be back with a big government solution — and all they'll need to implement it is a massive amount of taxpayer funding.

And this is the question voters should be asking themselves: “Who stands to gain?” The answer to this question can be found in a Nov. 16, 2017, article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, which reports that, after implementing policies similar to the ones being considered in Colorado, homeless issues around Seattle now cost the area $1.06 billion annually.

Here’s the punchline: homeless activists in the area have come up with a comprehensive plan to end homelessness for a mere $192 million annually. That sounds like a great savings over $1 billion, except that these activist groups are the very ones who pushed the destructive policies that created the problem to begin with.

What these activists do not understand is that people struggling with homelessness, mental health issues, or addiction do not want to be enabled in their behavior. Nor do they need greater access to drugs or alcohol. What they need is community support and supportive services that require them to be accountable and self-sufficient.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is building a foundation focused on prevention, expanding access to treatment and recovery programs, and intervention programs that make a real difference in people’s lives. That’s the right place to start — not by turning our streets into a zombie apocalypse.

Peter Droege is the former executive director of a program serving homeless, addicted men in Denver, and is the Fellow of Drug Policy for the Centennial Institute in Denver.

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