Homeless Denver

An unidentified man drags his belongings away during a sweep of homeless people who were living on sidewalks near Coors Fieldin Denver on Nov. 15, 2016. 

A federal judge has approved Denver's agreement to give notice before removing homeless camps.

The agreement is a settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the city over its treatment of the homeless.

The city reached the settlement agreement in February that involved issuing a $5,000 payment to each of the six plaintiffs in the suit, in addition to providing notice.

The settlement requires the city to provide a week's written notice before clearing large-scale encampments, attach written notices to unattended personal property and wait 48 hours before removing items.

Denver also agreed to install 200 storage lockers, more trash cans, two portable bathrooms and needle disposal boxes.

The lawsuit by homeless people and advocates says Denver violated the rights of people in urban encampments.

U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez approved the agreement Monday, saying the city's agreement was “just" and "humane" and that it "recognizes the dignity and the value of the homeless members of our community.”

Maria Foscarinis, the executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, said in February that Denver took a step in the right direction with the settlement.

"This is not solving the problem," she said. "It is making the problem a little less miserable for the people who have to live with it."

Denver's policies toward the homeless -- and particularly its ban on camping on city property -- have been in sharp focus this year, becoming a key issue in the mayor's race that led to the re-election of Mayor Michael Hancock to a third term.

In May, Denver residents voted on Initiative 300, which in effect would have repealed the city's camping ban and allowed people to live indefinitely on public property across Denver.

Advocates contended the measure would have put an end to police sweeps of homeless camps that they said simply pushed the problem of people living on the streets from one neighborhood to another.

Opponents said letting homeless people camp on the streets was an inhumane policy that will do nothing to help them and would create unsafe, filthy living conditions for both the people living there and others around them.

They also contended the measure would have gone much further than merely ending the camping ban by asserting the right of homeless people to live in public spaces ranging from river banks and playgrounds to the city’s mountain park system.

The measure was defeated by a nearly 5-1 margin, after opponents raised some $2.2 million from many downtown businesses as well as parks advocates and cultural institutions.

The late John C. Ensslin of Colorado Politics and The Associated Press contributed.

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