Annie Kurtz

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location Denver , Colorado
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Annie works to dismantle laws and practices criminalizing homelessness in Colorado through community-informed outreach and services, legislative advocacy, and impact litigation.

Colorado’s recent, rapid expansion has come with predictable costs: gentrifying neighborhoods, an acute shortage of affordable housing, and mass displacement to the streets. In this Colorado, “camping” is not the picture of a Rocky Mountain vacation, but a daily question of survival. Rather than address the root causes of growing homelessness, cities have opted to wield the criminal law to try to make the unhoused invisible or force them out of town. These laws make it illegal to use a blanket as shelter from the cold; to sit or lie down in the city center; and to sleep or camp in public, even when the shelter is not an option. The law tells the homeless to “move along,” but there is nowhere to go: at every turn, a web of ordinances makes their basic survival a crime, while inevitable criminal records block the exits.

Annie’s background in impact litigation and direct services shaped her commitment to pursuing community-led advocacy for systemic change. She is grateful for the opportunity to work in close partnership with Denver Homeless Out Loud and unhoused people in Colorado to ensure that her project reflects community priorities and experience.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Annie has:

  • Authored an amicus brief in support of unhoused plaintiffs’ successful motion for a preliminary injunction to stop unconstitutional sweeps in Denver; authored a second amicus supporting preliminary injunction on appeal
  • Successfully advocated for an end to the unconstitutional six-month residency requirement for shelter in Boulder, Colorado
  • Advocated for a humane approach to encampments in Loveland, Colorado during the pandemic
  • Collaborated with over 15 groups, including local unhoused advocacy groups and service providers in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins; law school clinics and student groups; and mutual aid groups, among others, to expand the project’s reach and impact

Next Steps

In the next year, Annie plans to:

  • Help launch a clinic to address unmet legal needs of Denver’s unhoused community
  • Ensure compliance with ACLU of Colorado’s 2021 victory challenging enforcement of Fort Collins’ anti-camping ordinance
  • Pursue high-impact litigation challenging local ordinances that unlawfully punish people experiencing homelessness for life-sustaining activities

Media

Boulder Files Motion To Dismiss ACLU Camping Ban Lawsuit

Unhoused Boulder Residents Sue City Over Its Camping and Tent Bans

Boulder May Look Into Community for Help With Additional Resources for City’s Unhoused

Boulder Shelter Will Add Capacity, While City Continues Reviewing ACLU Letter

ACLU Pushes Boulder To Abandon ‘Unconstitutional’ Homeless Policies

Boulder Reverses Residency Requirement for the Homeless, in Same Day ACLU Protests Policy

Push for Stronger Enforcement of Denver’s Homeless Camping Ban Would Complicate Already Fraught Law

Homeless Solutions for Boulder County Backtracks on Six-month Residency Requirement

The remedy for homelessness is housing, not handcuffs.

Annie Kurtz /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Host: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation

Sara Simon Tompkins

Host: National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

Sponsor: Individual Donors, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Vallen Solomon

Host: King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project

Sponsor: Costco Wholesale, The Raikes Foundation

Current Fellow

Michael Deemer

Host: Ohio State Legal Services Association

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation