I'm going to share an email exchange I had over unhoused persons and encampments, in response to this story I wrote over the weekend. boulderbeat.news/2021/01/16/bou…
I'm sharing it because I want people to know how I approach what I’m doing. Why do I report the things I do? What context, facts and perspectives am I considering? What should YOU consider?
I’m going to thread it out, but also share photos of the original email and my response (because it's a long thread). I’m not hiding the person’s name; they didn’t have one attached to the email.
Hello, unnamed person who (I believe) has emailed me before on these issues...?

I wanted to write a response to you, because I try to respond to all my readers. But I took some time so I could give it thought and compassion. 1/
I'm going to assume that you are a good person who wants to do the right thing. I'm going to assume this even though your emails suggest otherwise, because I like to believe the best in people. 2/
Boulder Beat is for people who are trying to do the right thing, trying to learn more about difficult issues; if you knew all there was to know already, you wouldn't need to read the news, right? 3/
So I'm going to assume that you are simply misinformed about a few things regarding persons experiencing homelessness. 4/
I'm not assuming this to talk you out of your beliefs, or your discomfort. I'm aware that a great many people are uncomfortable with the encampments and unhoused people in general, including people that I love and who I know to be good people who are trying to do the right thing.
Your discomfort is valid, and I see you. I want you to know that I see you, I hear you. I have not done a great job, perhaps, of letting these people know that I see and hear them and their very valid concerns. I'm trying to be and do better at that (and many other things). 6/
The camps ARE an issue. The waste and trash ARE an issue. Letting them remain as-is, without any cleaning or check-in by service providers, is not something the city can do. I understand that. 7/
It bears noting that the CDC has recommended that encampments not be removed during COVID *if* there are not INDIVIDUAL housing units available for these residents — not shelter beds, as the risk of COVID is increased indoors and in congregate settings. 8/ cdc.gov/coronavirus/20…
(Also an important fact to note: The rate of infection among the unsheltered has been roughly equal to the rate inside the shelter so far, assuming all unsheltered persons have been counted; if some were left out, then the shelter's rate is higher.) 9/
That is a fact. It's an expert recommendation. 10/
Another fact: 58% of unhoused persons in 2020 have resided here less than six months. 29% have been here longer than 2 years. 11/ bouldercolorado.gov/homelessness/h…
(Of course, I don't know your individual threshold for what constitutes being "from here" — how long have you been here? I'm not "from here" either — I moved here 9 years ago. Not that I could really help where I'm from. I didn't have much choice in the matter.) 12/
Another fact is that persons experiencing homelessness are more likely to be VICTIMS of violence and crime then they are to perpetuate crimes themselves. (As is sadly apparent, anecdotally, if you peruse the list of unhoused persons who died in 2020.) 13/ latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/…
From the city's own data, 6% of charges against unhoused persons in 2019 included threats of violence or against the public — for context, this also included resisting arrest, which is different then someone attacking a member of the public. 14/
Further context: Aggravated assaults and higher-level crimes weren't included in this, as they go to a higher court, not the municipal court. 15/
But, as the city notes, the "vast majority" of criminal charges against the unhoused are for open containers, camping or trespassing, not violent crimes. 16/
Next, you mention rape, which I take kind of personally as someone who actually has been raped. I think it should be a general rule that no one who has NOT been raped ever gets to use rape in an argument. 17/
Maybe you don't know, but 90% of sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. Of course, 10% of many rapes is still a lot of rape, so "stranger in the park" rapes do happen, and I would never want to diminish the experience of someone who experienced stranger rape.
They're just not as prevalent as people think.

Here again, unhoused people are much more likely to be raped than members of the general public (which is saying something, because rape is so heartbreakingly common). 19/ nsvrc.org/sites/default/…
Here again, unhoused people are much more likely to be raped than members of the general public (which is saying something, because rape is so heartbreakingly common). 20/
See: This report from CU Denver about Denver's unhoused residents, which also helps explain why (some) unsheltered residents choose to congregate together. 21/ …erhomelessoutloud.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/unheal…
"Women who have found more hidden sleeping locations report a 50% higher rate of robbery, a 60% higher rate of sexual assault, and more than 3 times the rate of physical assault. ...
... women who feel forced to move often to avoid police are 60% more likely to be sexually assaulted, and 247% more likely to be physically assaulted, than women who don’t move often." 23/
I suspect what you meant by your reference to rape was that people are afraid they will be raped. 24/
I get this: I really do. Even though I know that it is incredibly unlikely that I will be assaulted by a stranger, I am still uncomfortable passing large groups of unhoused persons — not because they are unhoused, but because they are men. 25/
I know that's not entirely rational, either. After all, the vast majority of men do NOT rape. However, nearly every rape — and most other violent crimes, for that matter — are committed by men. 26/
Maybe we should ban men from congregating or being out in public. The facts say they are the most likely to commit assault and rape.

I'm sure you (rightly) see that as ludicrous. We can't penalize all men just because a small number are violent. 27/
Apply this logic to unhoused persons. Why is it OK to penalize, demonize and fear an entire group based on the actions of a few? 28/
I'm not trying to talk people out of their discomfort. I have very real and rational reasons for fearing men; data only slightly dampens that very real fear I feel. Facts can only go so far.

But that's my job: To provide facts and context. 29/
I challenge you to consider these facts and this context to inform your opinion of unhoused persons and what should be "done" with them — just as I challenge myself to be more comprehensive of ALL perspectives in my coverage, every day. 30/
Maybe it doesn't matter to you that 25% of unhoused residents suffer from mental illness, or that at least 45% of unsheltered men and 60% of women have experienced childhood trauma, which is highly correlated with struggle as an adult. 31/
It doesn't have to matter to you. But you can't ignore it or pretend that it's not true.

It may very well be that you feel exactly the same when all the facts are considered. I'm not trying to invalidate that. 32/
What I am trying to do is my job, which is to provide facts and context so that an issue can be considered in all its complexity, and solutions/opinions can be fully informed.

I'm never going to stop doing that, no matter how many people sign a petition. 33/
Lastly, you mention that your ideal solution is to "swiftly send them on their way." Which Boulder does.

388 residents have been "diverted" or "reunified" since 2017, which often means giving them a bus ticket to another town and/or moving them back in with family or friends.
We don't know the efficacy of this approach. That is: How many people come back to Boulder? And how many people accept diversion, as a percentage of all unsheltered residents? 35/
I don't know; maybe it's very effective and no one ever comes back. I'll follow up and find this data for you so that you know how well this is working. 36/
Thank you for hanging in this far, if you have. I'm going to be here, trying to be and do better and challenge myself every day. I hope you will join me.


• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Shay Castle

Shay Castle Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @shayshinecastle

20 Jan
Time for the main event: Encampment and homelessness policy. (Or, if you're the city, "Maintaining Safe and Welcoming Public Spaces") www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Item_6A_-…
That was the staff presentation. Here's my story again, for reference. Same facts but adds a bit of context: boulderbeat.news/2021/01/16/bou…
This context WAS provided in the memo, but not the main body. All of the stuff about why unhoused people are unhoused and why it's a difficult problem to solve came from a city attorney's office memo attached to the packet.
Read 249 tweets
20 Jan
A quick touch on Macy's agreements before we head into the homelessness discussion. On the consent agenda are that company's agreements to pay an extra $3M into the affordable housing fund, and offer below-market-rate commercial space to retailers.
Some flexibility written in there in case "the mall is torn down" and there's no longer retail there, Carr says.
Wallach: "Why wouldn't the remedy for that condition be affordable office (space)" as opposed to nullifying the requirement to provide affordable space?
Carr: "We don't know there will be office space there either."
Wallach: "I'm uncomfortable with this expiration cause."
Read 14 tweets
20 Jan
Here's the open comment speaker list. Some new, some old names up there. I can't imagine how many people signed up; only 20 ppl get picked, via random lottery. www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/January_1…
"How much is enough in CU's insatiable appetite for growth?" Ron DePugh asks to start us off. "Is Boulder's real destiny to be absorbed and subordinated" to CU's growth?
10/10 for drama
Read 43 tweets
20 Jan
Patrick O'Rourke is here from CU.
I hate to say this, but this dude always puts me to sleep.
O'Rourke: "The spring semester, we have the same degree of anxiety and uncertainty as we saw in the fall."

CU is remote right now, until Feb. 15 (to some degree)
The infection rate in Boulder is currently below the 350 per 100K ppl, "which is great. ... We hope the infection rate will continue to abate" at which point we would bring students back.
Read 25 tweets
20 Jan
Oh, is there a #Boulder city council meeting tonight? I almost forgot.

J/K. I've been teasing it for a month. Tonight's agenda: Homelessness and encampments. Bone up. (tee hee) boulderbeat.news/2021/01/16/bou…
Also, before that, you might be interested in hearing an update from/on RTD and one from CU RE: spring semester plans.
No public hearing tonight, but there is open comment, so I expect community members to air their grievances there.
Read 34 tweets
13 Jan
OK, gonna start a new thread for this one: A look at council's priorities, what's been achieved so far and what's coming up this year.
This will also include a look at Department work plans for 2021. Only 1 dept reported having capacity for additional work items: The municipal court.
Read 84 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!