HUFF outreach: Want to do a Conference Call today or tomorrow? Support SC Homeless Coalition & FNB joint activist effort as City “leaders” promise in-place shelter but provide none for those outside. NO Noon Meeting Today

The April 12 on-line Council ratification of City Mangler Martin Bernal’s proposals included nothing specific regarding those outside, other than “police discretion” not to ticket those in parks and sheltering-in-place, but no response to reports that police have been denying access to homeless gear and ticketing some homeless folks trying to reach their campsites in the parks and/or beaches. 

Though the park/beach ban supposedly lifts at midnight tonight, police “discretionary” power to ignore CDC guidelines is dangerous to the public physical health as well as to all our civil liberties.

The quarantine fenced off areas around downtown (the so-called triage centers about which have not been much discussion) may serve as pens once the first cases of COVID-19 at the crowded shelters here become impossible to conceal or ignore.
  SF Coalition on Homelessness panel of medical experts demands testing now, and immediate movement of crowded shelter residents into individual motel rooms.  Hear/see the press conference & discussion at https://www.facebook.com/CoalitionOnHomelessness/videos/2954977444559143/?

Los Angeles has a bit of bright news which Santa Cruz activists should loudly echo: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/judge-says-la-cant-throw-away-large-items-belonging-to-homeless/2346160/?

Food Not Bombs [FNB] meal and clothes distribution is now daily 1-6 PM at the parking lot next to the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union at Laurel & Front.  Weekends the meal will be at 4 PM.

McHenry calls for food preppers and servers to help at the Vet’s Hall at noon today and in the days to come. 

No Motel vouchers have reportedly been given out by the City and County though the Sentinel announced in today’s print edition (yesterday on line) that Kramer’s “Housing Tidbits” Coral St. program is providing a few no-bathroom separate modular shelters..     As the virus spreads. 

My public questions to the City Council and City Manager at yesterday’s on-line City Council meeting during Oral Communications went unanswered:

  • How many of those crammed into unhealthy shelters have been offered the option of motel rooms rather than the dangerous conditions in the Vet’s Hall, the Armory, the Laurel St. shelter, Page Smith Community House, and the Paul Lee Loft?  
  • Will any City Council member be demanding these figures from the City Manager?
  • How many have been tested for COVID-19? 
  • How many are sick? 
  • How many have recovered? 
  • Where’s the FEMA and Governor’s funding specifically for those motel rooms?   
  • How much longer will city and county bosses withhold the $$.
  • How many motel rooms are being currently occupied? 
  • How many kept empty while the virus spreads?
  • What is the timetable for occupying the vacant but “reserved” rooms?
  • What are the priorities–are the most vulnerable but not yet ill or COVID-19 infected–to be last while waiting for the sickness to hit?

Meanwhile fenced off pseudo-triage centers around town (such as Lot 17 near the sports stadium), the parking lot next to the Calvary Episcopal (Red) Church, the area adjacent to Depot Park, the parking lot next to University Copy on Front St., and other such “holding pen” areas remain closed. 

Portapotties and washing stations are reportedly insufficiently cleaned and often water, toilet paper, and paper towels.   The only disability portapotty in the City that I’ve seen is along the San Lorenzo park path next to the back of the County Building, open only 4-5 hours a day as a convenience for those dumped from the Laurel St. cram-em-in shelter program.   The last time a disabled portapotty was publicly available was at Camp Phoenix last November, when it was paid for by FNB and the Santa Cruz Homeless Union before being hauled away by the police under a hastily fabricated “trespass” complaint.  HUFF IS SEEKING VOLUNTEERS TO DO A DAILY CHECK AND REPORT IN ON THE VARIOUS PORTAPOTTIES AND PRIMITIVE GARAGE BATHROOMS (often lacking privacy) throughout the City.. We checked a few during the Tour of Shame last Sunday, but need to do so more thoroughly and regularly.

Any reports on folks doing rent strikes locally?  McHenry reports folks are reporting illegal evictions continue.
HUFF MAY BE ORGANIZING BY PHONE TO PREPARE POSSIBLE PROTESTS DEMANDING IMMEDIATE FACILITY ACCESS (i.e. Motel rooms) before the only option  is quarantine areas.  CONTACT US AT 831-423-4833 OR RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL IF YOU’D LIKE TO HELP OR WANT TO PROVIDE REPORTS.
WE ARE ALSO CONSIDERING WAYS TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT SAFE PROTESTS BY RENTERS, EMERGENCY WORKERS DEMANDING DECENT WORKING CONDITIONS, &, OF COURSE, FOLKS OUTSIDE DEMANDING BASIC HEALTH/HOUSING OPTIONS.  SUCH AS BY CAR PROTESTS AS IS BEING DONE IN OTHER CITIES. 

Street Spirit newspaper distribution operations are currently suspended, but the Berkeley vendor center is still reportedly  looking for ways to provide some interim support for vendors whose sales lifeline has been cut off.  When HUFF hears, we’ll let the few vendors we have down here know.  No word yet.

Frequent local updates can be found on Facebook under Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs, Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates, Homeless Outside in Santa Cruz, SCCCP (Santa Cruz and Central Coast Politics), Monterey County Homeless Advocates, The Santa Cruz Community, (SF) Coalition on Homelessness.  See also homelesstimes.com



ACTIONS, RESOURCES, & CONSIDERATIONS from a HUFFster’s perspective

  • Check at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/Lostshows.html to hear a series of phoned-in reports from different activists and workers–which should be posted shortly and may be updated more frequently.
  •  City Manager Martin Bernal provided a handful of portapotties  City-wide and cold water washstands after refusing to do so for months, but maintained nighttime closure of bathrooms in parks in spite of the emergency situation and repeated calls and e-mails.   Nor has the County acted to provide basic sanitary facilities for the poorest outside, though it has financial and organization resources to do so.
  • City agencies have thwarted or denied Food Not Bombs, the Depot Project, Bagels on Bikes, HUFF, and other organizations their attempts to establish such vital resources.
  • Recent shutdowns at the Library, Louden Nelson, the Metro, the publicly sponsored Bookshop Santa Cruz, closed restaurants and businesses make this situation ever more dangerous both for folks outside and the broader community.
  • Very very few motel or hotel rooms are yet available for the 1000-2000 homeless outside who want and may need them to shelter more safely and securely in spite of government directives and financial grants. 
  • The inadequate “normal” charitable activities of those working with churches, social services, etc. have been cut back or closed–many of the staff of these organizations are over 60 and particularly vulnerable to the corona virus.
  • Normal donations to those directly seeking survival money through “panhandling” have been discouraged or criminalized under the new emergency regs, enacted without public discussion or vote.
  • Public transportation options have been restricted or shut down, making access to what limited resources there are even more problematic.
  • Mayor Cummings has issued no calls for an emergency Council meeting to pass elementary measures already done in other cities like a moratorium on evictions and rents. 
  • City Manager Martin Bernal & the City Council majority have a long history of resisting the expansion of basic services for the less privileged in town.
  • Supervisor Coonerty and the Board of Supervisors have declined to provide county-wide resources in an equitable and sensible fashion.
  • The health of the community depends on our community action through a direct and united response.
  • Up to now we have seen how “concerned” and “effective” local authorities have been in meeting the needs of renters and those outside.
  • Meekly following the dictates of authority in this crisis has not in the past, nor likely in the future, to be a wise, health-providing, and productive course.
  • We must confront directly, clearly, persistently, loudly and immediately to secure the basic survival needs of the community in the current crisis.
  • With washed hands and care to keep physical distance, bring food and yourselves to the noon food serving to sustain the survival effort and take the necessary future steps.
  • Contact Food Not Bombs (575-770-3377), HUFF (831-423-4833), or the Santa Cruz Homeless Union (831-431-7766) if unable to come for health or other reasons. (454-2200) and you wish to help.

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