Denver to homeless: Why not visit the zoo while the press are here?

Denver wants to put its best foot forward during the Democratic convention, which means they want to get the homeless out of sight while the media focuses on the city.  Instead of making panhandling illegal, which might solve at least some of the problem, Denver will pay for its homeless to ride buses and visit tourist sites (via William Amos):

“If they don’t want to get caught up in the protests or demonstrations, we’ll find other activities that will keep them busy,” said John Parvensky, President of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

A plan has been developed to provide interested homeless people with free access to cultural activities. They include the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and they won’t have to worry about paying for transportation.

“We’ll have bus tokens if they need them,” Parvensky said.

Also five, big screen TVs are being donated to a teen day shelter. One hope is to engage some of the homeless children in the political process by allowing them to see convention unfold on television. But another purpose is to draw them away from the streets while the Convention is underway.

On one hand, it’s not a bad plan, if Denver is more interested in hiding its homeless problem than in solving it. It gets people off the street and into places where delegates and media will be least likely to find them. However, given the opportunity to panhandle a large number of visitors to the city — and risking their strategic positions on the streets — the plan has little likelihood of success. In fact, Denver can almost certainly count on increased numbers of panhandlers during the convention in order to take advantage of the large jump in supply.

Of course, Denver now has a second option. Why not just invite all of the homeless to Barack Obama’s big finale at Invesco Field? I note that Denver hasn’t offered them that tourist option …. at least not yet.