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Aurora mayor criticized after posing as homeless person

January 8, 2021 GMT

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman drew continuing criticism this week in Colorado after he posed as a homeless person on the streets and called homelessness a “choice” in a television segment.

Some city councilmembers joined officials across the region in condemning the mayor’s actions, The Aurora Sentinel reported Thursday. They called for more substantial strategies to combat homelessness.

“I think he should issue a formal apology for it. It’s completely unacceptable,” said Englewood City Councilmember John Stone, who said he was homeless from age 16 until 21. “… I was homeless for five years. And Mayor Coffman believes that I am a hopeless case.”

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Coffman spent seven days in Aurora and Denver posing as “Homeless Mike” for a CBS4 news segment and came to conclusions that have been roundly criticized by officials.

“These encampments are not the product of an economy under COVID, they are not a product of rental rates, housing,” Coffman said during the segment. “They are a product of, of, a drug culture.”

Coffman has since issued a “clarification” that he thought homeless people choose to sleep in either shelters or outdoors.

Coffman had floated the idea of banning outdoor encampments within Aurora city limits, a policy derived from Denver’s controversial camping ban. The mayor did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Sentinel.