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Monday, July 25, 2022

Responding to People Experiencing Homelessness in a Compassionate Manner

Responding to People Experiencing Homelessness in a Compassionate Manner

The City of Westminster takes a proactive approach to supporting people experiencing homelessness in our community. Through a continuum of compassion, the City is dedicated to providing long-term solutions by connecting people with services and resources. The City provides this guide for residents to help clearly communicate the steps residents will need to take to report areas where homeless services may be needed and outlines the actions the City will take once a report is created. We hope you find this update helpful. 

How do I report homeless encampments? 

Please submit a service request to Access Westminster. Click the “Report Homeless Encampments” button under the Parks and Recreation Tab. City staff will route the report to the appropriate team. Access Westminster is also available in the Apple App store and Google Play store. 

Residents who already have the Westminster Police app may also submit reports under the “Resources” button. In order to streamline our data reporting, we ask the community to report homeless encampments through Access Westminster.  

Please reserve 911 for emergencies only. Unless there is an immediate threat to a person’s safety, please do not call 911 to report homeless encampments. 

Private Property: If the homeless encampment is on private property, the property owner may call Code Enforcement at 303-658-4432 or codeenfo@cityofwestminster.us

Who handles the requests? 

After a resident has submitted an Access Westminster service request, it will be routed to the appropriate staff based on the location of the encampment.  

Encampments on private property will be handled by Code Enforcement. Camping on private property is considered trespassing, and the code enforcement team will work with the police department to remove trespassers.  

If it is on parks property or open space, the request will be handled by the Parks, Recreation & Libraries Department. From there, the homeless navigators will visit the site within 21 days. In many instances, our homeless navigators have been in contact with the unhoused individuals and are working with them to offer support services and alternative housing.  

In order to successfully relocate unhoused individuals, our homeless navigators need to build relationships with unhoused individuals which requires time and patience. While there may be a desire to quickly relocate encampments, we ask residents for patience while we work to create a permanent or sustainable solution for the unhoused members of our community.  

What happens next? 

Since mid-2020, the City has successfully housed more than 60 formerly unhoused individuals and connected many others to critical support services from more than 100 partners including government agencies, non-profits, faith-based organizations, and health care providers. In June 2022, a second homeless navigator position was added to meet the growing demand for services. 

There have been instances where unhoused individuals refused services or chose to not engage with the homeless navigator. In these instances, the City’s park rangers have issued seven trespass notices and with the help of environmental mitigation contractors, cleaned up three homeless encampments on public lands.  

The Westminster Police Department has also worked with a private property owner to issue trespass notices, and the unhoused individuals voluntarily vacated the area.  

Westminster, in close collaboration with our neighboring cities, governmental entities, and other human service partners will continue to work toward reducing homelessness in our community in a humane and compassionate manner. Please continue to report instances of homelessness through Access Westminster. Thank you for your patience and support.  

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