Rally for Solutions, Not Criminalization, for Homeless Persons

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 22:32:50 -0800 (PST)


FWD http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/980330/pa_homeles_1.html
_________________
Chuck Currie
Oregon Housing Now Coalition
2710 NE 14th Avenue
Portland, OR  97212
http://www.oregonhousingnow.org
ccurrie@teleport.com
503-288-0317
_________________

Monday March 30, 10:52 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SOURCE: Project H.O.M.E.


ADVOCATES CALL FOR SOLUTIONS, NOT CRIMINALIZATION, FOR HOMELESS PERSONS;
PRESS CONFERENCE AND RALLY TOMORROW TO OPPOSE "SIDEWALK CONTROL" ORDINANCE


PHILADELPHIA, March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Open Door Coalition is calling on
Philadelphia City Council to withdraw a proposed ``Sidewalk Control''
ordinance which will criminalize homelessness and threaten civil liberties
for all citizens.

They will hold a Press Conference and Rally tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, at
noon at City Hall, Dilworth Plaza (west side).

The ordinance (No. 970817) would prohibit or regulate a wide range of
activities in an effort to address various ``quality of life'' issues. Much
of the ordinance specifically targets homeless persons on the streets of
Center City and would prohibit lying down, and sitting in one spot for too
long.

``An ordinance that further punishes people already struggling with
homelessness, mental illness, or addiction will only exacerbate the
problem,'' said Joseph Rogers, Executive Director of the Mental Health
Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a leading advocate on issues of
homelessness and mental illness.

The Open Door Coalition, which comprises homeless and housing organizations
and community groups, is worried about the excessive City costs for policing
that should go into solutions to homelessness. If this ordinance passes,
homeless persons would face citations, fines, open bench warrants, and
possible arrests that would make them ineligible for General Assistance (GA)
and they probably would lose medical benefits. Legal analysts also say the
ordinance contains many blatantly unconstitutional elements, including
restrictions on leafleting and free speech.

As an alternative to the ordinance, advocates are presenting City Council a
detailed plan for concrete solutions to Center City homelessness. The plan
includes expanded outreach efforts, no City shelter restrictions in the
summer months, a range of housing and supportive services for persons with
mental disabilities and addictions, and efforts to discourage panhandling
and promote recovery. The plan builds on the best successes of recent years
in combating homelessness and would dramatically reduce the numbers of
persons on the streets to a minimum.

``This ordinance would be counterproductive, costly, and inhumane,'' said
Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E. ``We urge the
Mayor, City Council, the Center City community, and all citizens of
Philadelphia to support an alternative plan that would significantly reduce
the number of people living on the street and enhance the quality of life
for all of us.''

SOURCE: Project H.O.M.E.


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