Words or Deeds? An Exchange of Letters with the City Council

 

The “Search for Sleep” Protest will begin on July 4th at 6:30 PM in front of the Main Post Office after the Saturday Food Not Bombs Meal. Councilmember Micah Posner sent the following letter of support for the protest. I responded with the letter that follows (slightly expanded and clarified for publication here) demanding actual action on his part and the part of other Councilmembers rather than pretty words.

COUNCILMEMBER POSNER’S LETTER TO CONSTITUENTS ON THE EVEN OF THE 4TH OF JULY PROTEST

To: Rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Subject: the dilemna of homelessness
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2015 22:21:07 -0700
From: micahposner [at] cruzio.com

Dear Constituents,

Well, I can’t say I have really taken a break from City politics. In fact, activists whom I respect are pushing me to work for change whether it is summer or not. In the Good Times that came out on June 24th, activist/ journalist John Malkin exposed the unscrupulous way that myself and a dozen other community leaders have been bullied and threatened by Police Deputy Chief Steve Clark. This hasn’t made it easy to sleep at night, despite the fact that I’m riding my bike a lot.

Now my father, Rabbi Phil Posner, is leading a sleep-out on July 4th to protest the fact that there is not a legal place for homeless people to sleep at night in Santa Cruz. My father, age 77, is a freedom rider who spent 39 days in a Mississippi prison in 1961 for sitting in bus stations with black people. Having moved to Santa Cruz about a year ago, he is shocked by the way we treat the homeless. “At least in the South,” he wrote in a piece to the Sentinel, “black people could sleep in a park.” While I know it is a difficult issue to solve, I agree with him.

This is not to say that I am happy with the behavior of all homeless people. Unlike blacks in the South, many individuals end up homeless due to irresponsible choices. However, the basic phenomenon of homelessness is due to our economic system and our society. We are not responsible for the individual circumstances of each homeless person, but we are responsible for homelessness. We have tried to evade that responsibility by making it illegal to be homeless. Specifically it is illegal for homeless people to sleep at night anywhere in the City of Santa Cruz and most other cities in California. And sleeping at night is a basic function of human beings.

In doing so, we have exacerbated a problem that effects those with homes and without. I completely agree with residents who tell the Council that they are fed up; who tell us that, “We have to end this.” Homelessness is a huge drain on the police, on the courts, on the emergency rooms and on our parks and open spaces. The lack of a place in society for the homeless is not a result of compassion or its lack. It is result of denial and disorder.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel. A plan to largely end homelessness by housing the people who are terminally unhoused has been ratified by the entire City Council and Board of Supervisors. This represents a real solution and I entirely support it. If we were not criminalizing the homeless via the anti-sleeping ordinances, it would be reasonable to simply work on the plan as quickly as resources would allow. As we reorient our resources to this real solution, however, where do we expect the homeless to go? Our one walk-in shelter, the Paul Lee Loft, will soon reopen specifically for transitional housing and will be open only to those who expect to have a home within 90 days. What about those without this expectation?

My intention is to place the issue on the City Council’s agenda this Fall by asking the Council to either repeal the anti- sleeping ordinances or begin a process to identify a place in the City for homeless people to sleep. I invite your feedback: If you don’t want to locate a place for them in the City what makes you think that they will disappear? If you do support a legal place, what would it be like?

To meet my patriotic papa and be part of this latest struggle for civil rights, go down to the Main Post Office on Front and Pacific on July 4th for a free meal from 4 to 6PM or join them at 7PM to walk to a nearby open space where people with and without homes will be camping out for the night. To get ongoing updates on the action, to volunteer or help to defray costs, call the cell phone of super activist Steve Pleich: 466-6078.

Your Concerned Council Member,

Micah Posner

MY RESPONSE TO POSNER AND HIS FELLOW COUNCILMEMBERS

Micah:

This is good rhetoric–better than Mayor Lane’s, in fact.

However the proof is in your actions.

You haven’t advised me whether I can tell folks tomorrow at the General Meeting that you have sought and obtained agreement from the Mayor to put the issue on the agenda in August or September. Or that you have gotten a guaranteed second so it can actually be debated. What gives here? PLEASE ANSWER CLEARLY WHETHER YOU’VE DONE THIS.

Further your “light at the end of the tunnel” proposed by the Board of Supervisors to “end homelessness” appears to support another in a long line of “studies” and “intentions” designed to garner federal and state funds for very limited programs without focusing the real resources necessary to provide the housing starts (or building confiscations) that would actually be necessary. It is a lie designed to mislead the community and falsely reassure people reminiscent of Obama’s claims that “we’re getting out of Afghanistan”.

The Paul Lee Loft has never been open to more than 46 people. Even before application was further limited only those with a 90-day hence home, it had little to do with emergency shelter for the 1500-2000 out there. It has generally been true that only the Waiting List has been available and the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center ][HLOSC} has regularly declined to provide those on the list with written documentation to show the police to forestall ticketing. And now that grudging help will not be available to homeless people generally unless they meet the absurd HLOSC “90-day” requirements.

As a City Council member, please request that staff (a) draw up an amendment to MC 6.36.055 that states there will be no prosecution or ticketing of those sleeping outside unless a police officer determine with a phone call that shelter space is available that night; (b) determine just how many sleeping citations were forwarded from the City Attorney, the SCPD, and P &R to the courts for prosecution (i.e. were held not to be protected under MC 6.36.055); and (c) require Parks and Rec to summarize their infraction ticket stats each month instead of requiring those seeking to review them to go through them citation by citation. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU’LL DO THIS AND WHEN.

If you bother to step outside your office and look at the recent tickets issued by the P & R–being held by Anna Brooks at the City Offices desk for us to pore over–you’ll see that (a) the overwhelming majority are for “camping”, “being in a park after dark”, and smoking, and (b) almost every single one has a stay-away order attached subjecting violators to 6 months in jail and/or $1000 fine (as a possible maximum). LET ME KNOW WHEN AND IF YOU’VE REVIEWED THIS GRI REALITY FOR ALL THOSE FOLKS YOU WRITE ABOUT. .

As for “identifying a place in the City for homeless people to sleep”, this phony search was done for six months in 1995 by Councilmembers Beiers and Scott when they were on the City Council, again in 1999 by Councilmembers Beiers, Krohn, and Sugar with the Council’s “Task Force to Examine the Camping Ordinance” when Beiers stated “there’s just no place for them”. ASK THE STAFF FOR THESE REPORTS OR CONTACT THESE FORMER MAYORS DIRECTLY AND FORWARD TO THE COMMUNITY THEIR CONCLUSIONS.

20 years ago, HUFF activist Becky Johnson, a former Board of Directors member of the Citizens Committee for the Homeless itemized a dozen places homeless people could sleep on city-owned property if bans were listed. PLEASE CONSULT HER AND REQUEST AN IMMEDIATE STAFF UPDATE ON THESE PLACES. If middle-class people were wandering around without homes because of a natural disaster, there would be immediate campgrounds set up as happened after the 19089 earthquake.

You can also move to demand authorities respect First Amendment requirements, eliminate curfews around City Hall, the libraries, and the parks that prohibit everyone, including activists, from even being in public areas–requirements imposed unilaterally by P & R boss Dannettee Shoemaker without any substantive justification. IMMEDIATELY REQUEST SHE LIFT SUCH RESTRICTIONS OR JUSTIFY THEM IN WRITING WITH SPECIFIC CONCERNS. MAKE YOUR COMMUNICATION IN WRITING.

If you really are providing more than lip service support, you’ll use your office to do what you can independent of vague and unsupportable promises. As well as FOLLOW UP ON PROMISES UNKEPT SUCH AS THE PROVIDING THE HLOSC BUDGET AND DOCUMENTING THE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT RECENT 24-HOUR PARKING BAN NEAR THE HLOSC.

Flowery rhetoric means nothing without action. You don’t have to be sleeping out to take any of the actions above.

I am also cc-ing every other Councilmember this letter, since it is clearly their obligation to act as well if they claim to be progressive or liberal on these issues. I shall encourage activists and the community to hold the entire Council and each individual Councilmember responsible on these issues–particularly those who have voted for ordinances further persecuting homeless people in public places (on medians, in parks after dark, at Cowell’s Beach at night, sleeping anywhere after 11 PM at night), etc.

But that burden lies heaviest on those who claim to be supporters of civil rights and services for poor people.

Robert Norse
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
(423-4833)

HUFF chugs along tomorrow 7-1-15 at the same Sub Rosa Station…

Looming is the  “Homeless Lives Matter”  Community Camp kickoff on July 4th 6:30PM on the sidewalk next to the main Post Office.     Paul Lee loft closed “for a week” yesterday.   As did meals and presumably showers, shitter, and laundry for the “not in programs” homeless.  No budget yet or other clear answers.   What will HUFF’s role be in this “rolling campout”?  Chat, scheme, organize!

Last Planning Meeting for “Homeless Lives Matter” Community Campout 6:30 PM Today Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2015

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/28/18774142.php

Title: “Homeless Lives Matter” Final Mass Meeting to Plan for Campout
START DATE: Sunday June 28
TIME: 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Location Details:
In front of the main Santa Cruz Post Office on the Steps where Front St. intersects Pacific, & Mission
Event Type: Meeting
Planning logistic, publicity, and other last minute details for the July 4th CampOut to begin next Saturday.

See “”Homeless Lives Matter” Back For Fourth Meal Preparing for July 4th CampOut” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/27/18774089.php for more info.

Join us. Bring your energy, courage, wisdom, and friends.

Cops Steer Clear of Fourth “Homeless Lives Matter” Meal

 

“Homeless Lives Matter” Back For Fourth Meal Preparing for July 4th CampOut

“Homeless Lives Matter” Back For Fourth Meal Preparing for July 4th CampOut
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Saturday Jun 27th, 2015 11:49 AM

Angry activists protesting closures, cutbacks, and laws against the homeless community held their fourth meal under the banner “Homeless Lives Matter!” They served their fourth breakfast around the corner from the Homeless Services Center, which I call the “Homeless (Lack of) Services Center” [HLOSC]. Its director, Jannan Thomas, announced cutbacks in services and shelters in May, announcing an end-of-June shut down the meals, laundry, shower, and restroom services previously available to all but now limited to those “in programs”. The shut down coincides with an escalating campaign to drive homeless people out of Santa Cruz by criminalizing sleeping, sitting, & sparechanging.

MASSIVE POLICE AND THREATS OF ARREST THE WEEK BEFORE

A week ago on June 18th at the same spot, more than a dozen CHP and SCPD officers threatened peaceful petitioners and food servers with trespass arrest. They declared the visible spot where two meals had been held without incident the week “a traffic hazard” and “part of [their] freeway jurisdiction”. With the Chief of Police himself on the scene, the CHP threatened confiscation of the food, tables, and literature. Activists then moved the meal tables twice. First they moved further away from the intersection, but the CHP still claimed they were “trespassing”.

Then activist Abbi Samuels, disgusted with the attack on folks serving the homeless and petitioning for saving services, declared “arrest me” and moved the table back to its original more visible (but clearly safe) location. CHP troopers then began preparations to arrest her, but two of us suggested we move the operation onto the sidewalk—which is a clear free speech zone, even though it would be crowded. We did. After huddling, the SCPD and CHP decided to back off (perhaps fearing a successful lawsuit as well as creating more of an uproar with so many armed cops going after the Food Menace).

The Sentinel’s incomplete account of the event is at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150618/santa-cruz-homeless-breakfast-protest-draws-police-attention (until the Sentinel requires a pay-per-view after a few weeks or so). You can also go there to comment.

A SUCCESSFUL MEAL THIS TIME

Flash forward a week to June 25th with two CHP officers standing near their bikes at the turnoff where the week before I and others had parked our vehicles off the road to unload food, tables, literature, etc.

This time, apprehensive of harassment and arrest, we didn’t use tables—instead transferring food to buckets and serving on top of milk crates. We did set up off to the side, but still on the “forbidden property” where we’d been told we were “trespassing” on June 18th and served from there rather than from the more congested sidewalk. This time CHPers did not interfere, but also declined to sample the fine cuisine.

We then doled out hot oatmeal with raisins as well as (reportedly) tasty potatoes and onions, whipped up by Cafe HUFF chef “Push Back” Pat Colby. Giving out fliers, holding colorful placards, and doling out the delicacies were Food Not Bombs volunteers and homeless folks from around the corner at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center from which they were being evicted.

STRONG SUPPORT
Israel, a videographer, set up his impressive looking video camera and began what is likely to be a regular feature of the ongoing Community Campout protests—segments of a documentary for UCSC. Lauren, a graphic artist and computer impresario posted beautifully crafted signs rather than the usual scrawled and coffee-stained posters that HUFF trots out denouncing the Sleeping Ban and the Service Shut down.

Activists included first-on-the-scene Steve Pleich from the Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project while others doled out coffee from India Joze restaurants, compliments of JumboGumbo Soupster Joe Schultz.

I distributed fliers—reproduced here—which described the latest pieces of information retrieved from the fog of confusion and concealment around the HLOSC’s budget (still withheld).

FURTHER INFORMATION
I’ll be playing interviews from this event and the previous June 18th cop jamboree on my Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Free Radio Santa Cruz show tomorrow at 10 AM. Tune in at 101.3 FM or check in at freakradio.org . The show will be part of a longer archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb150628.mp3 . Call in at 831-427-3772.

Next General public meeting of Homeless Lives Matter is tomorrow (Sunday June 28th) at 6:30 PM on the steps of the post office.

The Campout begins on July 4th . Assemble at 6:30 PM at the same place!

Note that the description above is from my perspective as are the fliers which contain “HUFF” authorship. These are my opinions and those of some if not all the members of HUFF. Other groups may or may not agree with everything written here.

§Background

by Robert Norse Saturday Jun 27th, 2015 11:49 AM


§Flier Distributed at the Meal

by Robert Norse Saturday Jun 27th, 2015 11:49 AM

Breakfast by the Side of the Road Thursday 10 AM June 25th: Come on Down!

Title: Cafe HUFF on the Hiway: Emergency Breakfast #4
START DATE: Thursday June 25
TIME: 10:00 AM11:30 AM
Location Details:
NW Corner of Hiway 1 and Hiway 9 around the corner from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Robert Norse
Email Address rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone Number 831-423-4833
At the end of the month, Coral St. is still due to shut down a significant number of services–such as the twice-daily meal. This in spite of an overall budget of over $3 million last year.

There are over 1000 people outside without shelter who face Sleeping Ban citations or other tickets costing more than $100 each (and triple that amount if they don’t get to court).

In response, homeless supporters will begin a nightly campout on July 4th with destination to be chosen and announced after the 4-6 PM FNB meal. See fliers for details.

This “Homeless Lives Matter” action is supported by HUFF, Food Not Bombs [FNB], and the Camp of Last Resort as well as independent activists

This the fourth in a series of breakfasts at Hiway 1 and Hiway 9 publicizing the lack of services and shelter for folks outside.

Unhoused people trying to sleep at night or use public spaces during the day face the threat of costly and humiliating police harassment and citations.

On June 18, a large number of SCPD and CHP officers flooded the area initially demanding we move, but ultimately leaving us alone after we set up on the supposedly public, public sidewalk.

We invite the community to come and share food, concerns, plans, and fellowship. Bring food if you wish as well as video devices to keep the authorities honest.

More information: “Homeless Lives Matter: Building Towards Justice ” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/16/18773599.php

Sentinel coverage of at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150618/santa-cruz-homeless-breakfast-protest-draws-police-attention

Added to the calendar on Tuesday Jun 23rd, 2015 3:32 PM

iCal Import this event into your personal calendar.

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by Robert Norse Tuesday Jun 23rd, 2015 3:32 PM

 

§Event Flyer Small

by Pat Colby Tuesday Jun 23rd, 2015 3:52 PM

 

Flyer 1

§Event Flyer Large

by Pat Colby Tuesday Jun 23rd, 2015 3:54 PM
Event Flyer Large

§Event Flyer Large

by Pat Colby Tuesday Jun 23rd, 2015 3:55 PM

 

 

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HUFF does its usual; Wednesday June 24th Sub Rosa 11 AM 703 Pacific

Front and center on the HUFF agenda is the “Homeless Lives Matter”  Cafe HUFF breakfast slated for Thursday 6-25 at 10 AM at the corner of hiway 9 and hiway 1.    Last week, CHP and SCPD ganged up on the oatmeal cookers–we’ll see what’s on the menu for this Thursday.  Updates on the City Council and Board of Supes meeting, today’s Sin Barras monthly demo against Solitary Confinement, and what the Good Times left out of the expose on Deputy Chief Steve Clark.  check it out.

Emergency Breakfast 6-18; Camp-Out Kicks Off 6-28 [1 Attachment]

Title: Homeless Lives Matter: Building Towards Justice
START DATE: Thursday June 18
TIME: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Location Details:
Corner of Hiway 9 (River St.) and Hiway 1
Event Type: Protest
Contact Name Keith McHenry
Email Address keith [at] foodnotbombs.net

Phone-

575-770-3377

An assembly of activists–consensed to have another Emergency Breakfast to organize towards the June 28 Camp-Out.

The focus being to bring attention to the emergency services cutoff as well as the criminalizing of homeless people.

I would call the group organizing the Camp-Out “Homeless Lives Matter!’ (but they have not so named themselves).

It contains activists from a variety of organizations including Food Not Bombs, HUFF, residents and refugees from the Coral St. complex, UCSC students, Camp of Last Resort workers, the Homeless Legal Persons Assistance Project, and others.

The last two meals on June 8 and 11th were boisterous and successful. Many folks described their dismay & anger at the abrupt termination of emergency services (though shelter at Coral St. has served less than 5% of the population outside at Coral St.). They held up signs, exchanged solidarity honks and shouts with passing cars and expressed support for the demonstration.

So far Jannan Thomas, Executive Director at 115 Coral St., has refused to release her annual budget or explain why emergency services are the first to go from a $3.4 million fund.

The opinions in this announcement are mine, but not necessarily mine alone. –Robert Norse

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HUFF into the Fray: Sub Rosa 11 AM Tomorrow June 17 at 703 Pacific

HUFF:  Lots of activist talk about the June28 CampOut coming up–which should take up a chunk of the meeting; we’ll be looking for clearer info on the Homeless (Lack of) Services Budget, the Fate of the 24 Hour Parking Ban near Coral St., and organizing for the Emergency Breakfast Thursday at Hiway 1 and 9 as well as the Project Pollinate Duck Pond Event This Saturday.  Join the gang!  Coffee should stimulate the proceedings!

More on the Announced Homeless (Lack of) Services Center Closing

 

Human Rights Under Attack in the City of Santa Cruz
by Dennis Etler
Tuesday Jun 9th, 2015 5:06 PM

The impending closure of the Homeless Services Center, due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, will deprive the homeless of Santa Cruz their basic human rights. The United States is not a poor, developing country, but the self-avowed richest nation on Earth. It is deemed exceptional and indispensable by our leaders. but it can’t supply necessary, minimal services such as shelter, meals, showers, toilet facilities and a secure place to store personal belongings and receive mail, to its most disadvantaged citizens, as mandated by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a founding document of the UN to which the United States is a signatory. As such, the City of Santa Cruz is in gross violation of the basic human rights of its citizens. In a civilized society an injury against one is an injury against all.

Human Rights Under Attack in the City of Santa Cruz.

The impending closure of the Homeless Services Center (HSC), due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, will deprive the homeless of Santa Cruz their basic human rights. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a founding document of the UN to which the United States is a signatory, states unequivocally that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” The United States is not a poor, developing country, but the self-avowed richest nation on Earth. It is deemed exceptional and indispensable by our leaders, but it can’t supply necessary, minimal services such as shelter, meals, showers, toilet facilities and a secure place to store personal belongings and receive mail, to its most disadvantaged citizens.

While the HSC has been providing basic humans services to its clientele since 1986 it is still far from adequate and many people are turned away or otherwise go unserved. The recent denial of emergency funding to the tune of $350,00 and increases in insurance premiums and other expenses have resulted in the HSC running a structural deficit of $600,000 or approximately 18% of its $3.4 million dollar 2015 budget (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150526/santa-cruz-homeless-services-facing-cuts ).

This shortfall is being used as an excuse to curtail all essential services to the homeless, resulting in the locking of the HSC gates as of July 1, 2015. But in 2012 with revenues of $2,114,000 and expenses of $2,538,000 the HSC was able to continue functioning with a $423,000 structural deficit or a 20% shortfall. Thus the loss of some funding in 2015 ($350,000 or about 10% of the overall budget) and other increased expenses should not of necessity entail the denial of basic human rights to a significant portion of the population of Santa Cruz.

This is especially the case when funds are readily available from the City for a $420,000 increase in monies allocated for “economic development” (City Budget page 248) and while over 100 city bureaucrats and functionaries make more than $200,000 in total annual pay and benefits (http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/santa-cruz/?page=3&s=-total). The assault on human rights in Santa Cruz, however, is apparently not happening in Monterey or Salinas that are said to have received similar cuts in emergency federal funding. Recent news stories from Monterey for instance report that the City Council has voted an additional $500,000 for homeless services (http://www.montereyherald.com/social-affairs/20150520/monterey-approves-500k-homeless-spending-plan), especially targeting homeless youth, veterans and women (http://www.montereyherald.com/social-affairs/20150527/advocate-community-has-resources-to-help-monterey-homeless-women).

Meanwhile, the Salinas City Council apparently has the the discretion to disburse federal funds as they see fit. According to the Californian “The Salinas City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to disburse a little more than $2.6 million in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funding. The money is distributed to American cities annually in three main ways — through the Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME investment partnerships program and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program — the latter of which primarily addresses homelessness. This year, on staff’s recommendations, the council voted to spend $1.9 million on CDBG programs, $543,083 on the HOME program and $172,842 on the ESG program.” (http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2015/05/13/council-doles-million-federal-hud-money/27221591/). If Salinas has the ability to allocate federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds why not Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz likes to portray itself as an affluent, progressive California city. But nearly 22% of the population of Santa Cruz lives below the poverty line (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0669112.html) (http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Santa-Cruz-California.html), and most of the 41% who rent cannot afford the sky high prices for even modest accommodations and have to live hand to mouth just to make ends meet (http://www.cityonahillpress.com/2015/06/09/inching-up-and-crowded-out/). Santa Cruz is statistically one of the poorest cities of its size in all of California (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20110922/santa-cruz-county-poverty-rate-highest-among-bay-area-counties). So while the majority of Santa Cruz residents struggle to survive and while City workers are denied a living wage (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/government-and-politics/20150527/santa-cruz-city-labor-workers-take-over-budget-meeting), City bureaucrats get fat at the public trough. Whose interest does the City serve when its policy makers earn incomes that dwarf that of most Santa Cruz residents? Who do they hobnob and identify with, the poor and downtrodden on our city streets, the working poor servicing the restaurants they eat at and the struggling working (former middle) class who spend their meager paychecks at local businesses or the wealthiest stratum of Santa Cruz society? Who do they serve? Need I ask?

Comments 

by same stupid foot

Wednesday Jun 10th, 2015 2:03 AM

It’s interesting to have various financial data side-by-side with things you’re just imagining. This is the sort of stuff that TBSC did two years ago as they made wild assumptions about the intentions of the center. The weeks since the news of funding cuts have shown that lefties are no more investigative or compassionate as those who hate people experiencing homelessness. As people face sleeping outside, you attack the system (though in error). We’ve seen the lack of real care and compassion as this whole thing is being as a device to complain about HSC, and the City without ever taking any responsibility yourself.

by Robert Norse

Wednesday Jun 10th, 2015 7:52 AM

Perhaps “same stupid foot” can identify the particular “wild assumptions” and attacks Etler makes in the article. Mindless support of bad behavior by the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] is as bad as mindless opposition a la TBSC.

These behaviors include silence as more laws are being passed criminalizing the homeless, refusal to provide the documentation needed to deter Sleeping Ban citations, failure to provide obvious direct services (lockers, adequate shelter), prison-like conditions (locked gate, fence, ID card), and closed bathroom at night.

It’s also telling that the HLOSC has declined repeatedly to make its budget for this year and last year public in spite of repeated requests. And significant that apparently they move immediately to announce cut off of the most essential emergency services [shelter, food, bathrooms, laundry, mail] when only 10% of their budget has been cut and 90% remains.

It appears that HLOSC is colluding with an agenda to reduce or eliminate emergency services. Perhaps this is being done to follow the federal money, perhaps to deter TBSC criticism, or perhaps simply as a wake up call to encourage more donors [this is the most hopeful prospect–if you’re a balls-out supporter of the HLOSC).

In any case, community support for meals, shelter, and other essential services–in whatever form–must be mobilized. Come to the Thursday June 11th meal tomorrow at 10 AM at Hiway 1 and Hiway 9. Support real alternatives to police harassment that will face more homeless people on June 29th.

A recent letter from Shelly McKittridge, a Program Director at the HLOSC complex, to a client being evicted from the Page Smith Community House sent yesterday reads:

“I think you are confusing the information about the Paul Lee Loft with Page Smith. We are not closing Page Smith Community House. We are, however, needing to move folks who have been in Page Smith over the 18 month limit on. The notices you have received are a structured part of the Page Smith Program. The Paul Lee Loft and Daytime Essential Services Program will close on June 29th because of the loss of funding for those programs. Page Smith, the Recuperative Care Center and the Rebele Family Shelter are not impacted by this funding loss.”

Folks can ask McKittridge herself what’s cooking at smckittrick [at] santacruzhsc.org or call her at her office 831-458-6020 ext. 3110 or on her cell at 831-345-5998 .

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Councilmember Posner Calls for 24-Hour Bathroom Support at Council today

 

 
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Jun 9th, 2015 1:56 PM

On May 26, City Council voted, at Councilmember Comstock’s initiative, to direct staff to investigate if not add 24-hour bathroom access. See “City Council Unanimously Votes on Two 24-hour Bathrooms” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/02/18773019.php Recently activists, led by Brent Adams, have focused on the lack of adequate cleaning of the “Posner portapotty” at Laurel and Front Streets, and enlisted some community members to do the job, Parks and Rec has declined to do.
Today the final budget comes up for discussion and vote at 7 PM. Councilmember Micah Posner, apparently anxious that staff opposition will kill the proposal, has asked the community to come and support. I forward his e-mail and my response.

Posner’s E-Mail:

Dear Activists,

As you know the City Staff are very concerned about Council’s direction to keep some bathrooms open all night. Their concerns are totally legitimate. After all staff are the ones who will have to supervise the proposed program.

The City Council, led by Pamela Comstock, has, so far, courageously, directed the staff to find some way to keep bathrooms open at night.

If people want to support this direction, you should be supportive. Bring flowers, appreciations and constructive suggestions. This is not a time for a negative protest, not even a polite negative protest. The Council can use your SUPPORT. This is completely different from the BEARCAT thing where you were being ignored and it needs a completely different
response.

AND, the idea of ramping this up into bringing excrement to the Council is completely counterproductive, in addition to being totally rude.

There is no better way to ruin the chances of the City opening bathrooms up at night than to bring shit to a Council that is being supportive of these efforts. I am totally shocked that activists who I respect came up with this idea. To be honest it makes me not want to share information with some of you.

My request: completely change the Facebook Event to encourage people to SUPPORT a City Council that wants to open bathrooms. Meet people at 6:45 and explain why being positive and supportive is the best way for them to get bathrooms open at night.

Thank you hearing me,
Micah Posner

MY RESPONSE

A City that declines to provide elementary sanitation services at night should not have to be wooed with flowers and candy.

The problem seems to be that the Staff (who Micah praises as usual) wants to reverse the will of the Council as expressed on May 26—the reason he’s asked homeless people (and housed folks) to come to the meeting.

And since the staff is usually the tail that wags the Council dog, as one activist put it, there’s not a lot of reason to be terribly optimistic.

I think everyone should present their concerns as they feel them.

No one I know of is planning to bring buckets of shit–though the current closed bathroom policy results in just that happening all over the City, of course—in spite of Brent and Micah’s well-intentioned incremental efforts.

I suggest people speak about the issue forthrightly and clearly and be prepared for the usual Council-follows-staff lockstep.

If that doesn’t happen—if the opening up the bathrooms is kept in the budget, well then, flowers to the Council!

If the Council caves, then obviously further steps have to be taken to focus attention on the issue.

Folks should be aware, of course, that this whole issue is a smaller part of the much larger proposed shutdown of emergency services at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center—which is now a locked, gated, patrolled area that requires ID to use.

This all seems part of the broader attempt to “unwelcome” homeless people to Santa Cruz and it is this broader issue that we all need to unite to fight. Or fight it separately in our own ways.

Meanwhile kudos to Brent and others focusing attention on the essential sanitation issue. And to the Council, if–for once–they do the decent thing.

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