[Hpn] Safe Sleeping Zones for Homeless People - 3 Speeches to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors - CA USA - HUFF fw Board of Supervisors - CA USA - HUFF fw

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 16 Sep 2000 03:43:27 -0700 (PDT)


To "Reply To ALL" listmembers of Homeless People's Network (HPN),

Is "a safe place to sleep" a part of our constitutional "right to life"?
Why or why not?

Would the arguments below, to legalize living in vehicles,
apply to City Council meetings where you live?


FWD  13 Sep 2000 Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom [CA USA]
CC REPLIES TO "HUFF" <wmnofstl@cruzio.com>

3 SPEECHES TO THE SANTA CRUZ BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
ON SAFE SLEEPING ZONES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE


THE BOARD - NOT THE COMMUNITY - IS THE PROBLEM

Speech to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors
by Becky Johnson September 12, 2000

I've spoken to you in the past about your jail denying prisoners adequate
blankets, pens to write with, and protection from abusive guards. We've
talked a lot in the last month about the County's Sleeping Ban directed
against poor and homeless people outside. We've mentioned your dismal
record of providing affordable housing, to say nothing of low-income or
very-low-income housing in this City and County. Affordable housing for
most poor and homeless people in Santa Cruz City and County is a car and
will be for the foreseeable future. We've written you letters and asked
you to explain why you refuse to even discuss opening up campgrounds or
safe sleeping places on County-owned property. Where are 6000 to 10,000
homeless people - a figure extrapolated from the latest United Way
survey - supposed to go?

City Council candidate Bonnie Morr, recently endorsed by The Greens and
the Transit Union, came out strongly for overnight vehicular sleeping
zones at Emeline Street. Many so-called mainstream Santa Cruz City Council
candidates have joined the 21st Century. They agree that a ban against
sleeping when there is no shelter, not to mention affordable housing, for
thousands of people is unacceptable. From left to right, council
candidates Martin Bryant, Steve Argue, Bonnie Morr, Ed Porter, Emily
Reilly, Scott Bugental, Michael Hernandez andArnie Leff, have spoken up
asking for safe sleeping areas.

Some of these candidates will be appearing Friday before the Homeless
Working Group, which meets every week at 3 p.m. in the Ocean Street
Holiday Inn. You Supervisors and the public are invited. The HWG
co-authored Area Chamber of Commerce Michael Schmidt's letter to
Supervisor Jan Beautz, urging her to reconsider the Emeline Complex
parking area. It has a legitimate nighttime use for people who have
literally no legal places to lay their heads. Our community like any other
has many problems, but I believe, at its core, it is not fatally
prejudiced. Rather we see politicians and bureaucrats institutionalizing
the prejudice of past years with bad laws. People in the community don't
want homeless people arrested for simply sleeping or modest homeowners
prevented from improving their homes. No, it is the laws coming from this
body that restrict and repress the efforts of people to shelter
themselves. It is officialdom that makes it hard on those who have no
choice but to live outside or on limited means in modest homes.

That kind of mentality is sadly represented by Jan Beautz's initial
response to our request for letting poor people use nighttime parking
space at Emeline. She said "over my dead body". Now what kind of language
is that? We've heard that kind of language before. It's the language of
fear and prejudice. It's the language the Nelson Mandela faced in South
Africa. It's the position that Martin Luther King faced in Mississippi. It
brings to mind the kind of roadblocks that poorer people trying to improve
their housing face in Santa Cruz County when the go to the planning
department. It's a kind of attitude and position that the community and
the voters need to put an end to. It's the kind of attitude that the two
major political parties have had for so long on so many issues - that will
be the real question in this coming election.

It's also profoundly deceptive, because Supervisor Beautz has a house and
a good salary, and may never find herself facing the kind of poverty and
homelessness that many people in this County face. It won't be her body
that's found dead of exposure, of heroin overdose, of death by trollbuster
beating. It will be the bodies of those people she has turned away from
County property because they're not her sort of people.

I invite the community to join us in trying to open a real and productive
dialogue with the Board of Supervisors on these issues.

A version of this speech was given before the Board of Supervisors on
9-12, shortened because of time restrictions imposed by the Chair of the
Board.



SAFE AND LEGAL SLEEPING AREAS FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE:
SANTA CRUZ'S DISMAL RECORD

By Becky Johnson - Speech prepared for the Board of Supervisors on 8-29-00


Where can homeless people sleep at night in Santa Cruz County?

"There's just no place for them," sighs Councilmember Katherine Beiers as
she climbs into her late-model Jaguar for her ride back to her spacious
westside mansion. Katherine Beiers killed the Safe Sleeping Zones proposal
earlier this June after a coordinated smear job against homeless people by
Plantronics and Texas Instruments, Inc. Board of Supervisors and Sheriff
Mark Tracy have worked hard to make sure no area in the County is
available for nighttime sleeping by homeless people with numerous
restrictions on occupying a vehicle for habitation purposes on County
right-of-ways.

The parking lot at the new $13 million dollar police station? No. "There's
no security at night" to quote police Chief Steve Belcher. Parking
structure #10 on Front St.? There's no sprinkler system "even on the top
tier" to quote the state fire marshall. The county building parking lot?
Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt says "its too hard to move people out in the
morning" The parking lot on River St. for the Cities Bus yard? "Some
employees come to work as early at 4:30am"

How about a 24 hour homeless campground? "We tried that. It was a dismal
failure." Dismal failure for whom?

The Planning Commission and the Zoning Board regularly crack down on
do-gooders who allow homeless people to sleep on private property.

Does Santa Cruz County claim to be trying to help homeless people? The
record is more clearly stacked showing the County persecutes people for a
condition they are desparate to change. Child Protective Services seizes
the children of homeless mothers, including newborn babies right out of
Dominican Hospital.

It costs $55 per night to "house" a homeless person in the jail for one
night. It costs only that amount to transport, feed, counsel, and
house a homeless person for one night. Yet money for jails, police, and
other "enforcement" mechanisms are funded at an alltime high, while this
board will not even agendize allowing the Emeline County Services parking
lot, which is not used at night for nighttime sleeping for homeless people
living in their vehicles.

The new buzzword is "we are admitting defeat to homelessness" which is the
facile argument that if we provide a parking lot for homeless people to
sleep at night we are admitting that homelessness is here to stay. Why a
vitally needed and easily provide interim place for homeless people would
prevent county officials from working on longer term housing solutions to
homelessness has never been explained.

Homeless people are subject to acts of violence in a way housed people are
not. Homeless people are seriously challenged to maintain their lives and
families in ways housed people can't imagine. Homeless people need to
sleep at night just like every human being needs to: rich or poor. What
will it take to make this Board do the right thing? Does it take a
lawsuit?

I hope not. Please, open up the County Services parking lot at night to
homeless people for nighttime sleeping. To do otherwise is only to cause
more human suffering for the least of your people.



THE MYTH OF EMERGENCY SHELTER IN SANTA CRUZ

Speech to the Santa Cruz Community and Board of Supervisors
by Robert Norse 8-29-00


The Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program [ISSP] is the County's only
emergency homeless service that actually claims to be ready to provide a
legal sleeping space for a person walking in. There are waiting lists for
the other long-term programs. And there's the City and County Sleeping
Bans waiting for those who don't get into this largely mythical
program which has no space now and is expected to have no space until
November.

Are you tired of dodging Mark Tracy's deputies nighttime rousts? Tired of
waiting for Supervisor Mardi Wormhaudt to get off her "magnet theory"
NIMBY-ism? Tired of the out-and-out conventional bigotry of Supervisor Jan
Beautz who keeps the Emeline parking lot a "no homeless" zone at night?
Tired of the silence of Supervisor Jeff Almquist, who has taken no action
to work with City business leaders and politicians, struggling for the
last six months to open up a safe sleeping zone at night in the County
parking lot? Tired of the well-dressed do-nothing amiability of Supervisor
Walt Symonds? Tired of the inaction of Watsonville's Supervisor Tony
Campos, who should know better? KGO recently called Santa Cruz "the NIMBY
capitol of California."

If you're one of 750-2000 homeless in the City or 6,000-8,000 homeless in
the County (these are the figures I extrapolate from the latest United Way
report), you're real tired. So get more tired when you're told by Judge
Art Danner, there is no roadside resting law. You get still more tired
waiting for Wormhoudt or her aides to return phone calls. You tire of the
indignity, exhaustion, and danger of hiding night after night. So you turn
to the ISSP, the Wormhoudt solution.

You show up at 3:30 p.m., and you learn from ISSP program director Ken
Cole that there are no spaces in the ISSP program. That there have been no
spaces in the ISSP program since the Winter Armory Shelter closed. That
even before the Armory closed in April, the program was frequently filled.
That there will be no chance of a space until November when the Armory
opens again and then that will add only 100 spaces (not 200 as the
erroneous Consortium of Care claims). Don't believe me? Call Cole yourself
at 458-6020. He should be there now.

Faced with this dire sitution, did Chair Wormhoudt seek to get this County
to declare an emergency? She did not. Instead her Winter Shelter Advisory
Committee dissolved. Instead, when respectable City agencies like the
Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women asked that her
do-nothing Committee speak out to reform the City's absurd Sleeping Ban to
protect homeless women, she arrogantly smothered any discussion of the
matter & then added insult to injury by noting, haughtily, she opposed
changing the City's Sleeping Ban--its "go to sleep, go to jail" law for
poor women.

I'm tired of looking at another season of protest to deal with comments
like Jan Beautz's. When asked whether she would consider the thoroughly
reasonable proposal to open the Emeline parking lot at night, she
reportedly replied, "over my dead body." It will not be her dead body that
will be found in the river. Last year 19 homeless peoples bodies - that's 19
deaths in the City of Santa Cruz alone - were the cost of this blind lack of
policy. We credited Mayor Katherine Beiers and her Sleeping Ban Repeal
goosechase with some of these deaths. But if this Board continues to hold
off-limits clearly unused space at night that could be available for safe
sheltering of homeless people, it will bear significant responsibility for
the deaths this year.

Surely Supervisor Wormhoudt remembers that the City of Santa Cruz enacted
a Shelter Emergency a decade ago in 1990, when she was Mayor. It is still
in force. Now Mighty Mardi has climbed to the dizzy heights of the Board
of Supervisors with SCAN and progressive credentials. she loftily and
regularly dismisses any concerns about the County's homeless. In 1995 the
City of Santa Cruz declared a second concurrent Shelter Emergency. And in
1998 it declared a third.

All of these shelter emergencies are concurrent. Have the maps been
gerrymandered again or isn't most of the City of Santa Cruz in Wormhoudt's
district? Surely Santa Cruz City is more to Supervisor Wormhoudt than just
a convenient political footstool and an inconvenient memory? Surely the
Supervisor remembers that little city where she pioneered the Scott
Kennedy two-step, reversing traditional progressive priorities to join
hands with the business community to trash the homeless in the name of
earthquake recovery and then use that dark alliance for increased
political power?

Why focus on Supervisor Wormhoudt? Because she, of any of this Board, has
had the clearest education in homeless needs, if she has bothered to
listen all these years. Yet she still clings to a strange flat-earth
theory, the idea that "human rights guarantees will only produce a magnet
effect". Why focus on Wormhoudt? Because her district contains the County
seat. Because it is her responsibility not to shuffle these issues off
into meaningless committees. It is her job not to play election-eve
politics with the lives and well-being of thousands of people and cast her
dark shadow over Santa Cruz City politics with authoritative advice to
Council candidates "don't back rights for the homeless or you'll lose in
November".

And it is your job, Supevisors, all of your jobs, to take real action on
safe sleeping zones now.

Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833
rnorse@hotmail.com 309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz 95060

END FORWARD


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