A homeless encampment in Denver is attracting national attention for its new additions–a pop-up bar complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and tents rumored to rent out for what some consider the world’s oldest profession.
“We’re hearing there was an open bar, sales of alcohol, things like that,” Denver Police Patrol Division Chief Aaron Sanchez told CBS Colorado. “We have officers looking into that.”
The unusual tavern, at 23rd Street and Champa Street, has amassed “numerous complaints” due to its infringement upon the walkway for pedestrians. According to reports, the area is also littered with empty liquor bottles, implying that the bar gets a significant stream of customers.
However, despite the fun for those who indulge, Meghan Shay, director of development and marketing at Step Denver, a nonprofit dedicated toward the upliftment of homeless men, states that the setup could cause greater harm than just disrupting walkers.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a consistent problem among homeless individuals, Shay detailed from a report, thus encouraging its usage in this way can worsen addicts’ journey as they battle with the disease.
As the bar is unregulated except by the unhoused people who live within the encampment, the safety of those who participate, including in the alleged solicitation of sex work, can impose more dangers onto the community.
It is a nuanced issue, with the agency and autonomy of unhoused individuals being at risk, especially as they build a comfortable gathering place within the area. However, as addiction is a primary reason for why many are in this predicament, as well as the cause of over 60% of houseless peoples’ deaths last year, the continuation of this bar is being investigated by local authorities.
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