Letter to City Council Calling for No More Freezing Sweeps 

December 12th 2022

Dear Denver City Council, 

We the undersigned are writing to ask for the City Council to take action to solidify policy for Denver to protect the lives of houseless people by preventing sweeps of houseless people and their property when it is under freezing. Denver must activate emergency cold weather response by opening warming centers and halting sweeps any time it is under 32 degrees. The current standard of 10 degrees or 6 inches of snow is unconscionable!! No one should have their property taken and be left with nothing or be forced to move all their belongings when it is under freezing. 

Medical professionals state that the risk of hypothermia is present anywhere under 32 degrees. If it is wet that risk goes up even more. Frostbite leads to lost limbs. People who are elderly, sick, disabled, or otherwise not in full health are even more affected by cold temperatures. Losing property to stay warm in a sweep and then being on the streets with nothing can be deadly. 

Houseless people are being prevented from going inside in the freezing cold to get warm because they have to stay out to keep the City from taking all their property in a sweep. When people do go inside, they lose all their property when they get out. This does not help people get inside to be warm and it leaves people out in the streets in the cold with nothing.  

When sweeps are conducted in freezing weather, this process itself is dangerous and traumatizing. Houseless people are forced to pack all their belongings in the cold and snow, often getting themselves and their property wet, dragging property long distances in the cold. When someone is sick or disabled this process is even worse. People are already often dehydrated, malnourished, sleep deprived dealing with stress, trauma, anxiety, mental health and physical health challenges. The stress of moving is bad enough without facing freezing temperatures and wet snow. 

Warming Centers at Recreation Centers should be open in all freezing weather and sweeps should be canceled so that houseless people can safely access those warming centers without fear of losing all of their property. 

After showing the current standard is not based on medical reasoning, DDPHE has said they will “revisit” this standard, However even if they do set a new standard this does not ensure that standard is followed. Last winter the City canceled some sweeps in cold weather, but conducted others in weather as cold as 4 degrees. We cannot count on verbal commitments from City departments to not conduct sweeps in extreme cold.

Policy needs to be set in place to ensure a safe standard is followed regarding cold weather response, including the policy for halting sweeps of houseless people’s property in cold weather. City Council’s job is to set policies for our City and this is a critical policy to set for the safety of our community. 

Please take action to protect the lives of houseless people in our community.


9to5 Colorado

American Civil Liberties Union, Colorado 

American Friends Service Committee

Atlantis Community 

Bayaud Enterprises 

Be-Konnected: The Housing Connection 

Clergy for Freedom and Justice and Family Advocacy and Crisis Education Intervention Team

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless 

Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition 

Colorado Poverty Law Project

Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee

Denver Catholic Worker

Denver Democratic Socialists of America

Denver Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety

Dry Bones Denver 

Elevated Denver

Empowerment Program 

Friends of SODen

Growing Home

Harm Reduction Action Center 

Housekeys Action Network Denver

Janet’s Kitchen

Mutual Aid Monday

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

New Covenant Alpha And Omega Church

Occupy Denver

Reciprocity Collective

Redress Movement

Romero Theater Troupe

Seasoned with Grace Unboxed

Spring Institute 

Together Colorado 

Warm Cookies of the Revolution

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