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Denver's Big Experiment
The Safe Outdoor Space that was not safe | Part 2

We've heard a lot about Temporary Safe Outdoor Spaces lately. Here's what we haven't heard.

Harm reduction and low barrier housing failed Erica M
Erica M died of an acute overdose of methamphetamine, in her tent, at the Grant Street SOS camp in December 2020. She was likely dead for 2 days before she was discovered.

Documents, obtained through a Colorado Open Records request, speak for themselves. Colorado Village Collaborative and Earthlinks operational plans were identical.

 
From Earthlinks Operational Plan, the Grant Street SOS service provider

 
"The Basic Structure of a Safe Outdoor Space locally and nationally...
These are harm reduction facilities and follow low-barrier housing principles (if on government property, use is not allowed on site
but residents can use offsite)."

Earthlinks-First Baptist Church permit application & operational plan, 11/1/2020
 

 
The Colorado Village Collaborative SOS Resident Handout

 
What are harm reduction and low barrier housing principles?
Harm reduction and low barrier housing principles were developed in the 1990s and implemented in both national and local policies.

Harm reduction methods do not require treatment or sobriety. Harm reduction includes use of alcohol/drugs in a resident's individual space, providing syringe disposal containers, clean needles, and Narcan.

Low barrier housing has minimal expectation of residents, focusing on health and safety: no background check, no drug test, no breathalyzer.

SOS residents are not required to accept services as a condition of being in the camp site
.

This means that drug and alcohol use is allowed in the camp sites, in individual tents. If service providers claim to prohibit drug and alcohol use, they can't claim to use harm reduction and low barrier principles. If there are conflicting statements made, that is commonly called "never being wrong."
 
The Mayor and City Council want SOS sites in every neighborhood.
Is this what WE want in our neighborhoods?
Where is the transparency and accountability in this big experiment?

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