[Hpn] Homeless camps, restrooms & anti-homeless laws [by Forrest Curo]

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 13 Nov 2000 19:30:46 -0800 (PST)

"Homeless people defecate and urinate in public."  Do you hear that complaint
from your local business groups, neighborhood associations or public officials?

Do the complainers _also_ "work in good faith" to open public restrooms
and place portable toilets or latrines where homeless people congregate?

If not, consider that "health and hygene" is _not_ their true concern.
In such cases, what agendas _are_ advanced by "criminalizing homelessness"?

On related issues, I forward these comments from an activist in California,

FWD  CC REPLIES TO: forrest curo <forest@cts.com>

At 07:03 AM 11/7/00 -0800, someone on the NASNA street newspaper list wrote:

>I am especially interested on how public
>restrooms for homeless is handled, also if you have
>camps or campuses for the homeless. How is it working?
>the anti- Homeless laws in your cities.

Forrest Curo of Street Light newspaper in San Diego [CA USA] replied:

1) Restrooms. About 1992 there was a LOT of pro-homeless activism here, and
the City deflected it by establishing a "Homeless Services Coordinator"
with a "Homeless Advisory Board" whose advice was largely ignored; HOWEVER
some of their suggestions did make it into the "Homeless Policy."
	In late 1997, Larry Milligan started a public fast to induce the
City to
actually implement the portion of their policy calling for 24 hour public
restrooms. Several people, homed and homeless, joined in demonstrating
and/or fasting in support. (Sign: "Honk if you have to use the restroom
late at night.") Soon after Congressman Bob Filner did a press conference
at the fasting site, members of the City Council agreed to pass a measure
putting two such public restrooms into 24 hour operation.

2) Camps. Every time a group of homeless people try to join together, the
police department normally breaks it up.
	In California, the Eichorn Decision established that homeless
people could
not be convicted of 'illegal camping' if they had a 'necessity defense'
based on all appropriate shelters in a jurisdiction being full. For awhile,
police were calling "Infoline" in the MORNING to see if there HAD been beds
the night before, and issuing tickets if there had been. (This does NOT
necessarily mean that callers the night before would have been TOLD!)
Generally, police and security guards have since the decision relied on
bluff and intimidation to move people along, but they DO continue to move
them, as I have witnessed.
	Not only "Ignore your rights and they go away," but "If you can't get a
lawyer there ARE no rights."

Forrest Curo <forest@cts.com>
Street Light [newspaper]
San Diego [CA USA]

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