The “Ask a Vendor” column allows us to share the thoughts and wisdom of the diverse group of people who make up the Denver VOICE vendor pool. Do you have a question for VOICE vendors? See below for more information on how to submit it.
Have you ever chosen to sleep outside instead of staying in an emergency shelter? Why (or why not)?
I haven’t slept outside because I don’t want to get a ticket from the police. I also feel it is not safe to sleep outside. If I can’t get into a shelter, I stay with a friend or go to a 24-hour restaurant. I always make sure I have a place to stay, so I don’t have to stay outside.
Yes, I have chosen to sleep outside. [At an emergency shelter] I would have to stand in line from 2:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. to get a mat at 7:00 p.m. And it’s so loud I couldn’t get to sleep until 11:00 p.m., only to be woken up at 4:00 a.m.
No, I’m not equipped to stay outside. No sleeping bag—and no place to keep it—or tent. Security is also an issue.
I was homeless for 23 years, and during that entire time, I stayed at homeless shelters fewer than five times, regardless of the weather. Based on my experience, homeless shelters are brutal. Many shelters are understaffed. I have seen brutal crimes committed against other innocent homeless people. I have seen the use and sale of drugs.