Between cups of coffee and questionable munchies, we’ll brood on Resurgent Freedom Sleepers and Unhoused Encampment Protest Elsewhere, Raising Local Homeless Issues In the Midst- of Rising Anti-Trump Protest, Sockin It To the Sign Scofflaws in the Pacific Ave. Shops, Manifesto to the New Mayor, and anything else that troubles our little crew.
The show can be accessed at www.freakradio.org (on Free Radio Santa Cruz) or directly off the Homeless Marathon website at
Each hour after the first begins with a short segment, a five-minute pre-recorded report, followed by a long 53-minute live segment. These short and long segments are marked on the broadcast schedule below. In addition to what is marked, we will be taking calls throughout the broadcast.
|LONG: Our host “Nobody” opens with members of Preble Street Resource Center joining him in studio. Cheri Honkala, head of Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (and 2012 Green Party VP candidate) speaks with a group of homeless people. Also, Patricia Colby, homeless woman living in van, Santa Cruz homeless activist.|
|SHORT: Street Poetry
LONG: Eric Sheptock, homeless in DC shelter and leading DC homeless activist. Paul Boden, formerly homeless, head of Western Regional Advocacy Project. Robert Warren, formerly homeless, head of People For Fairness, DC homeless advocacy group.
|SHORT: Street Poetry LONG: Tasha Lemley, former editor of Nashville homeless paper with homeless people. Michael Reyes, runs food truck and feeds homeless people for free in defiance of City of Phoenix.|
|SHORT: Street Poetry LONG: “Alice,” an older woman living in L.A. in her car while fully employed but unable to find housing because of gentrification. Los Angeles Poverty Department, an artists group working with homeless people, some of whom will be on hand to speak on the air.|
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at] foodnotbombs.net
With numbers somewhat diminished from 3 AM police roust-em-into-the-rain raids, the occasionally-open Warming Center, and the walk-to-the-outskirts-of-town-
PROTESTS AGAINST TRUMP
There are protests aplenty planned for the Trump Coronation coming up this weekend (elsewhere on this website). Missing however is any focus on halting repressive policies being pushed by both DemoRats and RepubliCons. These polices most obviously include continued warmongering, wealth privilege, police power, extensive deportations, and–most especially–attacks on the poor outside. In Santa Cruz neither Democrats, Republicans, or Greens in office have moved to stop criminalization of the homeless or acted to secure their most basic survival rights.
Between 4 PM and 5 PM Thursday January 19, Freedom Sleeper Pat Colby will be joining the 19th Annual Homelessness Marathon–which will stream on Free Radio Santa Cruz at http://www.freakradio.org or directly from their home website at http://news.
Tenant activists are planning a free meal and story-swaping session where you can ” meet other renters and learn about rights you have under state, county, and city law. Plus presentations on successful renter protection actions. Sunday at 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM at 517B Mission Street. No landlords or property managers invited!
First They Came for the Homeless Encampment in Berkeley In 16th Move: Interview with activists Mike Lee and Sara Menefee at http://radiolibre.org/brb/
A new vigil at SF City Hall and a 24-Hour vigil for the recently-dead Homeless by Homeless and Activists rather than the Traditional Annual Mourn-Today-and-Watch-’em-Die-
In Salinas the Monterey County Union of the Homeless huddled for its 1st Anniversary Strategy Session yesterday. See http://www.thecalifornian.com/
In Sacramento, city bosses respond to pressure from media and activists to open winter refuge from the storms: See https://www.newsreview.com/
Time 4:00 PM Tuesday - 9 AM Wednesday
Location Details Under the eaves of City Hall until driven away by “peace officers” and “park protection rangers” and then on the wet sidewalks outside City Hall. Bring cardboard, canvas, protective gear, video, and friends. The protest runs from 4 PM today to mid-morning Wednesday.
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
ANOTHER NIGHT OF ENDURANCE
In wretched cold wet weather, the Freedom Sleepers continue the vigil that was begun 78 weeks before outside the offices of the City Council members who have the power to end the Sleeping Ban, permit protective encampments, open up vacant buildings for shelter, and actually protect the homeless population instead of criminalizing them.
City Council however, has nothing on its agenda for its first meeting of the year–in the shortest meeting scheduled in memory. Ironically one of the only two regular proposals is a Sanctuary proposal for undocumented workers. Meanwhile, police active persecute and harass the city’s own displaced poor.
Councilmember Krohn will be meeting with the public 9 AM today at the Cafe Pergolesi at Cedar and Elm Streets this morning before the vigil. He has the power to request police reports on the amount of ticketing and harassment done throughout the winter and in the last year (records still withheld by the police department). He can pressure the opening of bathrooms at night by demanding detailed reports on the actual needs of a homeless population of 1000-2000.
He can openly demand documentation of the amount of homeless property taken by police and rangers and insist that such seizures of survival gear stop (as the Denver mayor has finally done). There are many such demands of staff that do not require a Council vote (which he’s not likely to get).
THE SCPD’S THROW-THEM-OUT-IN-THE-RAIN POLICY
At the last Freedom Sleepout in freezing rains, homeless advocate Dreamcatcher reported that police drove homeless sleepers out from under the protective eaves of City Hall into the rain and cold with no alternative places to go. The private Warming Center program and the 110-capacity Winter Shelter program have no shelter for more than 90% of the city’s homeless population. Police have reportedly made it a point in the particularly cruel weather to station vehicles outside public buildings to make sure the poor don’t dare to huddle under the overhangs for protection.
The SC Tenant Organizing Committee plans a Tenants’ Community Meal on January 22nd! See https://www.facebook.com/
A broader union with tenants facing imminent homelessness could be a strong force for change. Late afternoon organizing and door-knocking is planned for 1-10 @ 5pm, 1-12 @ 5:30pm, 1-15 @ 4pm, and 1-16 @ 5pm.
STANDING UP FOR JUSTICE
Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs responding to half a dozen arrests over the weekend of food servers in Tampa, Florida, will be joining in a solidarity feeding and protest 4 PM Saturday January 14th outside the Main Post Office.
RISING UP TOGETHER
Salinas Union of the Homeless will have its 2nd annual celebration at 22 Soledad St. 10 AM – 1 PM at the CSUMB Learning Center on Monday, January 16, 2017, Martin Luther King Day. Contact HUFF at 423-4833 for more information, or come to the Wednesday January 11th HUFF meeting at 11 AM at the Sub Rosa Cafe.
DOWNTOWN STRUGGLE CONTINUES
Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, activist artists Joff Jones and Alex Skelton have blown the whistle on selective police enforcement against street artists, activists, and performers. See “Selective Enforcement documented on Pacific Ave” at https://www.indybay.org/
Come prepared for wet weather and icy reception from uniformed thugs armed with the power of law and the force to lethally enforce it. Hot soup will likely be available.
NORSE’S NOTES: A recent story on Santa Cruz indymedia (“Selective Enforcement documented on Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz, CA” at https://www.indybay.org/
In order to pass constitutional muster, the “h” word couldn’t be used or it would violate the 5th and 14th Amendments (equality under the law).
As the noose was drawn tighter with expanded forbidden-to-sit zones and a 1 hour “move along” law in 2002/3 and further expansions in 2009, merchants continued to violate the law.
According to the city clerk’s office some years ago, it was never legal, for instance, for stores to put up free standing signs on the sidewalk advertising their stores. There was not even a permit process for doing so. Yet merchants regularly have done so. Police and city enforcement officials have turned a blind eyes.
The “performance pens” set up by City Council in 2014 (and then severely restricted unilaterally and behind closed doors by city staff) are routinely ignored by merchants when they display their wares, preempting more of the little public space left to the rest of us.
It’s striking to me to read the July 16 letter from Martinez and Khoury [below]. I will be making a Public Records Act demanding copies of all citations issued since the letter was written.
An obvious thing to do is to begin calling the police on various merchants to cite merchants for violating the law and arrogantly expropriating the public space. Then document what police do or don’t do. And publicize it.
HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) previously considered advising merchants that we’d like them to join in a coalition to support giving individuals the same right to set up their tables as merchants have. Otherwise, for every citation given a street performer, vendor, activist, or homeless panhandler, there would be a specific documented complaint made out against a store owner with a display device sitting out on the sidewalk.
I’d be happy to support folks doing this.
In fact, I’ll be bringing it up as an action item at the next HUFF meeting (Wednesday January 11th 11 AM at the Sub Rosa).
Here are some selections from The Jones/Skelton Report on indybay at https://www.indybay.org/
For more photos, video, and to make comments, go to: https://www.indybay.org/
They are required to be located within a “zone” or “box” 4×6 feet in size, leave after one hour, and follow additional restrictions. These spaces have been reduced in number progressively by more than half over the last couple of years, with few viable spaces remaining. Businesses have also long used public spaces and sidewalks to display merchandise and signage. They received a letter dated July 21, 2016 (see photo, below) outlining the need for their compliance with the new laws. Rangers and Santa Cruz police issued citations for violations of these codes, and many performers, artisans, and other individuals who weren’t allowed under the new code, or weren’t “in a zone,” or were there longer than one hour, were cited. As the months wore on and the business signage and racks of merchandise began to reappear along the avenue, there has been no apparent concern by law enforcement at their daily presence (almost never “in a zone,” and often displaying “banned items”).
Many individual citizens and visiting performers to Santa Cruz continue to be cited for various related “offenses,” however. Tickets we have seen have all been in excess of $300.00.
See below for additional photo documentation, the letter from law enforcement, and Santa Cruz municipal code Chapter 5.81:
NOTES BY NORSE: Santa Ana–a City that was the focus on extensive legal action on behalf of the homeless 25 years ago– has transformed a retrofitted bus terminal downtown into a 24-hour homeless shelter serving hundreds of people. Criticisms by those upset by the overcrowding, harsh treatment, and favoritism are chronicled below in these Voice of Orange County articles (see also the links in the story below). However apparently legal pressure and the (now unlikely) prospect of federal intervention (as happened in the Bell v. Boise case) did prompt a massive if typically off-target expenditure to open up what may be the largest shelter on the West Coast.
Santa Cruz, in contrast, has essentially eliminated year-round shelter services at its Homeless (Lack of) Services Center. Gone areboth the emergency shelter element (which was never more than 50 spaces) & the free meal aspect (shut down completely after June 2015)–actions that prompted the ongoing Freedom Sleeper demonstrations at City Hall. Fences, security guards, and ID cards have replaced the open campus practices of past years–apparently as a sop to NIMBY locals in the Harvey West Neighborhood Association and bigoted community groups like Take Back Santa Cruz. Disabled and ill clients have been literally thrown out on the street–to be subsequently hospitalized like Andy Carcero. Others have periodically set up protest campsites outside demanding fair treatment. Mainstream and “alternative” media, unlike Orange County media, have paid no attention to the abuses at Coral Street and its slow steady descent into a prison-like posture. And for the thousands outside without even the possibility of shelter City Council throws money at police, rangers, and security thugs to “move along” disabled folks out into the rain from under the eaves of buildings. When will the simple realities of the presence of homeless people on the streets finally force authorities to abandon police-state tactics in favor of real resources? No time soon, I fear, without street and legal pressure.
Homeless voices will be speaking out in the annual Homelessness Marathon January 19th (http://news.
It’s more important than ever this year that we stand by groups like the Midnight Mission as we all try to do what’s never really been done before in Orange County.
Offer homeless people a concrete strategy toward recovery.
Yet we will all have to work together to find and finance our way there.
And it won’t be easy.
The core of the County of Orange’s approach is increasingly developing inside a retrofitted bus terminal at the downtown Santa Ana Civic Center, abruptly dubbed the Courtyard Transition Center last year by county officials amidst a charged election campaign for county supervisor that deployed the homeless response center on a 30-day deadline last October.
For many homeless activists at the Civic Center, the bus terminal was a significant achievement.
“We’ve been pushing for something like this, a place to get people off the streets,” said Larry “Smitty” Smith, a homeless activist who lived at the Civic Center in recent years.
“We got exactly what we wanted,” said Smith, who has himself in the last few months moved into permanent housing along with becoming employed with the Ilumination Foundation to work in the civic center area on homeless issues.
Smith credits county officials for being considerate and thorough as they continue to retrofit the space to help homeless.
“We never wrote down we wanted heat, wind blockage, tv, microwaves, full showers, laundry, even women getting their own bathrooms,” Smith said. “We never thought we’d get that.”
The Civic Center, much like the Santa Ana riverbed near the 57 Freeway, became a central gathering point for hundreds of homeless in recent years while county supervisors largely ignored the issue.
Following a strong community outcry last year for a response at the Civic Center, and support for using the bus terminal as a rapid-response center, Supervisor Andrew Do pushed his colleagues on the board to authorize a purchase of the facility for $5 million along with a $1.3 million annual budget.
Do, who took a chance on the project – and ultimately rode publicity for the effort to re-election in November – deserves credit for getting county homeless policy off life-support.
The question in 2017 for all of us is what kind of policy are we moving toward?
So far, the Courtyard has been a clear success.
This past month, when the rains fell on the Civic Center – hundreds had a safe and dry roof to sleep under.
On most nights, nearly 400 people are sleeping at the terminal – four times as many as when it first opened for cold weather last winter, which was run by Mercy House.
Nearly 20 people have already been moved into permanent housing, 18 Courtyard residents have gotten jobs, and more than 100 people are accessing government services at the site each week, according to a civic-center update newsletter sent out by the County of Orange.
The scene at the Courtyard itself is impressive, looking like a community center with numerous tables, a TV viewing center, storage, bike parking, bathrooms, laundry and organized feeding. At the periphery, you can see people getting assistance through government workers and small cubicles for those that are awaiting program placement.
Yet there are real challenges.
As our newsroom has chronicled, there are some activists already raising concerns about how the Courtyard is being managed, with things like the approach toward security triggering questions.
Eve Garrow, a policy analyst with the ACLU that also has worked alongside Smith on civic center homeless issues, sees challenges at the bus terminal and fears county officials are trying to do it on the cheap.
“When I visit the courtyard, I see an extremely disabled population,” Garrow said.
Note that the ACLU currently has a lawsuit pending against the City of Laguna Beach, arguing that the city’s efforts on a shelter are coming up short.
Going cheap can be costly, Garrow warns.
“My litmus test is would you have your grandmother living there?,” Garrow said.
She’s afraid county efforts at the bus terminal could make things worse, especially among those with mental conditions like PTSD, if the site is not properly developed.
“It’s very crowded,” Garrow said of the Courtyard.
I wrote previously that security at the site would be one of the most complex undertakings.
Midnight Mission officials seem to have found a good approach so far, getting more than 400 homeless people to trust enough to use the facility with a low visibility security approach.
It’s important to point out that so far there have been hundreds of people sleeping next to each other at the site for months and there have been no major incidents.
Yet one thing that nonprofits and government agencies don’t handle well is criticism and controversy. It makes them nervous and they tend to dig their heads in, stop returning reporters phone calls.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
This whole process will be delicate. There’s a lot to debate and learn. There will be mistakes, opportunities for course corrections.
Smith puts it in proper perspective.
“Yes, there are 400 people here packed together. Most have mental issues. And yes, there are situations. In a perfect world, they’d (security) catch everything. But the world has never been black and white. It’s always been grey,” Smith said.
The Midnight Mission approach to security has been key to getting buy in, Smith notes.
“By lowering the barriers, letting anybody come in, you changed the whole best practices plan in OC,” Smith said. “That changed it all.”
Smith said the Courtyard has had such great success, there is talk of fast-tracking things at the county’s proposed homeless shelter site on the Anaheim/Orange border, popularly referred to as the Kramer site by officials – for the street where it is located at.
There is reportedly talk of putting into practices the lessons from the Courtyard and housing people right on the warehouse floor.
Yet that potential change is already triggering public questions from local elected officials like Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray, who came forward to raise such questions at a county supervisors’ meeting last month.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who drove the political deals that ushered in the operations plan for the Kramer site, called on county leaders to publicly update where plans are.
Some fear the Kramer site could sit empty because of the deals that made it politically palatable.
“Read the operation plan for Kramer, nobody will use that,” Smith said. “People will not give up their rights. What they don’t want they do is go through bullshit to get off the street.”
These are all important, tough questions, which underscores the fact that this should all be a public process, with periodic public updates. That makes for better policy – even if public meetings go a little longer and are a bit more passionate.
Due to pounding rain, vacation absences, health problems, and assorted other circumstances, HUFF won’t be meeting tomorrow at its usual time and place (11 AM at the Sub Rosa).
However, anyone interested in being involved in HUFF activities for the next week can call me at home 11 AM to 1 PM tomorrow. Possible tasks involved: Greeting the New City Council at its First meeting of the year on January 10th; carpooling to Salinas on Martin Luther King Day (Jan 16th) to join the Salinas Union of the Homeless event; Prep for and Connection with the Annual Homelessness Marathon on January 19th; Help for the Public Records Squad; Support for Berkeley’s First they Came for the Homeless; Forming a Santa Cruz Union of the Homeless (again) and more….probably less.
Time 4:00 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Wednesday
Location Details On the frosty sidewalk outside City Hall at 809 Center St. across from the Main Library. A Tuesday night sleepout in probable rain (bring tents or protective gear either for yourself or for others). The event lasts from late afternoon Tuesday to mid-morning Wednesday.
Event Type Protest
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
As a “New Year” dawns, it’s the same ole Sleeping Ban bullshit with those resisting the ban gathering together in community protest outside the taxpayer funded hunting lodge of the politicians and staff who run Sleepsnatcher Central. Last week’s Freedom SleepOut was sparce, but also apparently ignored by armed uniformed Sleepbusters. With nervous bureaucrats back in their offices, more raids are likely.
CITY SLEEPSTEALERS ARE BACK ON THE JOB
City offices reopen today in case folks wish to register their concerns officially about the City staff’s waste of time, money, and conscience on harassing, ticketing, and arresting homeless people for homeless status crimes. These include sleeping after 11 PM outside or in a vehicle, protecting oneself against the cold and wet with a tent, being in a park after dark, urinating behind a bush when bathrooms have been intentionally locked, etc.
The “new” City Council members and the old ones have open offices where they are allegedly accessible to the public for those who wish to suggest they fulfill their responsibilities.
ANNUAL HOMELESSNESS MARATHON IN MID-JANUARY
A scaled down national Homelessness Marathon begins on the Thursday January 19th from 4-8 PM on Free Radio Santa Cruz. Folks will be encouraged to respond to the Trump inauguration happening the next day. The show will take broadcast from WMPG in Portland, Maine.
For more info go to http://news.
LIBRARY’S THURSDAY OUTDOOR KOFFEE KLATCH
Sentinel has noted a weekly Koffee Klatch happening outside the library every Thursday morning. Librarian Maile McGrew-Fredé had organized a Coffee Hour/Working Together program that provided (for one hour) a tent against the rain. 10-11 AM. The rest of the time, you’re on your own–if you can avoid the patrols. http://www.santacruzsentinel.
The library’s new “Working Together” program also claims to “work with an information advocate on any information problem, access issue or obstacle of your choice. A library staff member or community volunteer will work with you, using a laptop computer and access to a phone, one-on-one for up to one hour, to help you overcome hurdles to housing, safety, education, health, income or well being.” You may have to do a “same day sign-up during Coffee Hour in front of the Downtown branch library at the corner Church St. & Center St. If anyone has successfully used this “program”, please contact HUFF at 423-4833 with the good news. More “info” at http://www.santacruzpl.org/
LIBRARY HAS BECOME ANTI-HOMELESS IN LAST FEW YEARS
Councilmembers Mathews and Terrazas voted some years ago to pass repressive rules in the Main Library regarding such Santa Cruz-special crimes as “sleeping” which have become cause for eviction and stay-away. Uniformed First Alarm “security” thugs have patrolled the premises (as well as regularly harassed Freedom Sleepers and others seeking shelter from the rain under the eaves of the public buildings). Mathews and Terrazas can be reached by phone at 420-5020. Their e-mails are cmathews [at] cityofsantacruz.com and dterrazas [at] cityofsantacruz.com .
Parks and Rec Dept boss Mauro Garcia continues to send out Rangers armed with ticket books and stay away orders to drive away homeless people sleeping at night in the forbidden zones outside the library as well as overseeing destruction of the grassy areas at City Hall. Let him know, it’s time to restore these spaces to the public–housed and homeless: mgarcia @cityofsantacruz.com phone: 420-5270
Some homeless folks report harassment and exclusion from the library by the roaming First Alarmists; others suggest that the pressure has tapered off. Contact Food Not Bombs at the Saturday and Sunday meals at the Main Post office 4-6 PM with real news.
SHELTER FOR THE FEW
The Association of Faith Communities $300,000 shelter program is “expanding” to 110 with a second shelter at the Salvation Army. Rumors are they may be moving their intake area from the less-accessible past-the-Tannery location to the Salvation Army itself. The program, along with the occasionally-open Warming Center accommodates around 5% of the County’s homeless population. Meanwhile there continues to effectively be no emergency shelter at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center at Coral St. as well as no meals for those with no “pathway to housing”.
BERKELEY BROADSIDE FROM “FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE HOMELESS”
The “Poor Tour”–an ever resurgent encampment/community in Berkeley has weathered its 13 bust-and-move in the dead of winter. It’s now located in the “Gourmet Grotto” of Berkeley at the far end of Shattuck Ave. Details at their facebook page and at https://www.indybay.org/
VIDEO THE MARAUDING MEANIES
With a week of rain predicted in the days ahead, folks with video capability on their phones or other devices should pause to protest, witness, record, and post any instances of uniformed thugs driving homeless people out into the rain. The only protection for the community’s civil rights is action by the community.
The show will also archive at http://radiolibre.org/brb/
Newly-elected Councilman Chris Krohn will be interrogated around various issues. These include Council transparency and accountability, restoring public spaces, immediate cessation of the raids on homeless encampments and individuals, rent control, and his own proposed programs.
Krohn was Mayor in 2002, ran unsuccessfully for Supervisor and has written occasionally on political and activist subjects. I and other homeless activists wrote about his administration and its refusal in the main to advocate for human rights for those outside. See the 2002 Street Spirit stories at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/
Has the former Councilmember grown a new set of wings and balls?
This year Krohn has kept up with the “politically acceptable” liberal positions of the day such as former Mayor Lane’s belated, partial, and failed Sleeping Ban repeal proposal of last March. He has also jumped on the bandwagon of those betrayed by Bernie last summer.
Krohn did speak about ending the Sleeping Ban in his opening Council speech on December 13th. And the After-Burn Coalition (the “New City Council” group) did also raise that issue as a rallying point.
Since Krohn does not have the potential majority he had and didn’t use in 2002, it remains too be seen whether in 2017 his rhetoric can be turned into concrete action. Such actions might be facilitating public records act requests, raising issues on which he will lose in the short run, but educate in the longer haul, and using the prerogatives of office to spotlight rather than rubbersgtamp staff abuses. However, there’s often a yawning gap between campaign promises (or statements made on the radio) and their fulfillment.
We often find to our chagrin that those in power don’t need to act on their rhetoric since they can’t be held accountable for it.
I may be adding my own additions to call in questions to sharpen the discussion.