Denver is a city with many attractions, including several pro sports teams. But a homeless encampment in the Mile High City 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 uplifting homeless men, has concerns. She says 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. Encouraging its use this way could 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 those 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 as they build a comfortable gathering place. However, as addiction is a primary reason why many are in this predicament, as well as the cause of over 60% of houseless peoples’ deaths in 2022, the bar is being investigated by local authorities.
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