|Title:||Sip Soup as you Gag at City Council’s Study Session on Homelessness|
|START DATE:||Tuesday April 30|
|TIME:||6:45 PM – 8:45 PM|
|809 Center St. Santa Cruz City Council Chambers|
|Contact Name||Robert Norse|
|Email Address||rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com|
|Address||309 Cedar PMB #14B Santa Cruz, CA 95060|
|The Santa Cruz City Council has scheduled a Special “Study” Session on Homelessness.THE COUNCIL’S RECENT RECORD
Hey, April Fool’s day came and went nearly a month ago!
This is the Council that recently voted an anti-homeless curfew on Cowell’s Beach, killed Needle Exchange in the City, and has backed more recruits for the sleepsnatcher SCPD, which regularly rousts homeless people, steals and confiscates or destroys their gear.
Some Council members (Lynn Robinson, Pamela Comstock) are suspected of planning a further fund reduction of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center in the near future, for which this session is preparation.
Reports of recent vigilante and police violence against homeless people have been on the rise.
REAL FOOD AS THE COUNCIL CHATTERS
You can look over the staff report at the City Council website re: Study Session on Homelessness coming up tomorrow by going on the City Council website.
READ THE REPORTS
It also looks like the national figures are a severe undercount.
There are five additional documents on the same site that will be “considered” by City Council.
BRING SOME REAL INFORMATION & CALL/E-MAIL COUNCIL
Call City Council at 420-5020 to demand
(1) endorsement of AB5 (the state Homeless Bill of Rights,
Currently there is legal shelter at the Paul Lee loft for less than 50 people in a homeless population of 1500-2000. The Winter Armory Shelter closed on April 15th.
Or e-mail City Council at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com Request that City Council staff acknowledge your input with a reply and include it in the City Council packet.
Interesting and actually quite apropos is the telling sentence on the first page of the Staff Report:
“In order to keep the meeting to a manageable scope, the report and presentation on April 30 will not delve into possible solutions for Council action. Should the City Council wish to engage in that discussion, future agenda items can be scheduled.”
In spite of this significant limitation, it is important that the realities of the struggle for homeless survival be made visible and public. Bringing the issue to the community is our real task.
Please bring any accounts you have of vigilante violence or police harassment.
Added to the calendar on Monday Apr 29th, 2013 3:44 AM
Public Comment on real Public Safety issues “not on the agenda” is, of course, at the end of the meeting, which some will not have the patience or endurance to sit through.
I have repeatedly requested this meeting be audioed at least for those who can’t attend it, since it usually creates reports that then get largely rubber-stamped by City Council, in spite of public input. Terrazas had declined to do so without explanation, a sunny smile on his face with the assurance that “he’ll consider it for a future meeting”. Bring your own audio (or video) equipment to be sure.
The meeting may be held in City Council chambers or in the conference room behind it.
Real Public Safety issues for homeless people such as police violence and vigilante attacks, of course, are not on this committee’s agenda (and have never been to my knowledge). Nor is there any move to reopen accessible Needle Exchange in the City, nor set up Sharps Containers nor public bathrooms.
It looks like needle distribution and Public PooPoo will continue in the nighttime hours. But then, that’ll give Take Back Santa Cruz, the Clean Team, the SCPD and Councilmembers Robinson and Comstock something to mount a bogus political campaign around–won’t it?
Burly First Alarm Security Guard John prowled the premises, and Sgt. Bush was “sgt at arms”.
I had to leave early to take home a weary woman who’d undergone dental surgery earlier in the day. Having handed out half a hundred flyers, I called it a night.
Thanks to Joe Schultz for the tasty food.
If I nerve myself up to view the video (assuming it was televised), I’ll pass on my comments.
I’m including a flyer that I made but was unable to download because my printer went down and Fed-Ex Kinko’s would not take the format.
Comments (Hide Comments)
Tuesday Apr 30th, 2013 7:50 AM
Long-time homeless activist Becky Johnson posted the following set of comments on the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) e-mail list (also accessible through the HUFF blog at http://huffsantacruz.org/wordpress/). A few brief Notes by Norse follows Becky’s extensive comments. For easier reading, I’ve also broken up Becky’s long article into sub-headings. The capitalized caustic headings are mine not Becky’s.BECKY WRITES:
In preparation for its Study Session on Homelessness, a series of documents were generated. The First document is the Agenda Report Here are selected quotes or sections and my comments regarding them.
LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL STATS ON HOMELESSNESS: $ FOR STUDIES NOT SOLUTIONS
(HUD) “Two-thirds of homeless people (390,155) were sheltered in emergency shelter or transitional housing with the remaining one-third (243,627) unsheltered. The percentage of homeless people who are unsheltered did not change from 2011 to 2012.”
BECKY: In Santa Cruz, we shelter between 6% – 10% of our homeless population.Or perhaps other localities are less vigorous in counting homeless people who are outside of existing shelters.
“Of the five states that comprise almost half of the nation’s homeless population, California accounts for the largest, at 20.7%.”
BECKY: This demonstrates that the POLICIES & PRACTICES in Calif. cities fail to stem homelessness more than in other cities in our nation. Pricing housing beyond the means of average workers, students, elders and criminalizing homeless people for sleeping, using blankets, sitting on a sidewalk, being in a park after hours, etc. has created the worst instances of homelessness in our nation
(HUD) “California has the second-highest rate of unsheltered people at 64.9%” “The San Jose/Santa Clara City & County CoC had the 7th largest number of homeless people among Major City CoCs (7,053)” “The Watsonville/Santa Cruz City & County CoC was 6th out of the Smaller Cities, Counties and Regional CoCs with the largest numbers of chronically homelessindividuals (967). The Santa Rosa CoC was 4th with 1,014 and the Salinas/Monterey CoC was 7th (794).
BECKY: So not only do we have a larger percentage of people experiencing homelessness, a larger percentage who are unsheltered, we are the 6th out of small cities in number of chronically homeless individuals. Clearly, Santa Cruz is an epic fail when it comes to helping homeless people.
“2002 pledge by the Bush Administration to end homelessness by 2012” NOW: “2010 report “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness” produced by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and signed by President Obama. The plan aims to end chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness in five years and end homelessness for families, youth and children within the next 10 years.”
BECKY: Oh, goody! ANOTHER “10-year plan” to end homelessness.
“HHS and HUD, with the overall trend of moving away from predominantly supplying emergency housing to more comprehensive solutions such as permanent supportive housing, particularly as a solution to chronic homelessness.”
BECKY: This is the HUFF position as well. Homeless ppl need more than a mat on a church floor. they need a room with a door they can lock. Hence housing subsidies & motel vouchers which the City of Santa Cruz has a glut of in winter months.
Totals and Shelter Status
• 2,771 homeless individuals were counted, which represents a 22% increase from 2009 (2,265), and a 0.6% reduction from 2007 (2,789)
• The number of unsheltered people increased by 38% since 2009
• 77% were unsheltered (2,125) and 23% were sheltered(646), which exceeds the national average of two-thirds unsheltered. Since 2007, the relative proportion of unsheltered to sheltered individuals has been fairly constant.
BECKY: Actually the nation average is 2/3 SHELTERED. So SCC is WAY behind Natl. averages. (see HUD report quoted above)
• Ten-year trend data show the number of homeless persons in Santa Cruz County has decreased since 2000, a 14.4% reduction
• The 2011 annual estimate of individuals who experienced homelessness is 9,041
BECKY: That’s between 3% and 4% of our counties population that experiences homelessness EVERY year at some point. Their common problem is lack of money.
76.1% of respondents were unemployed
BECKY: That means 1 out of every 4 homeless people have a job, but are still homeless
• 33% reported income from panhandling.
BECKY: That means 2/3rds of homeless people don’t panhandle
37.6% reported earning less $101-200 per month and 21.8% reported earning less than $50 per month.
BECKY: With this kind of abject poverty in our midst, no WONDER they are homeless!
54.3% reported receiving $0 from government income monthly. 23% received $501-1,000 monthly.
BECKY: This means MOST receive NO govt money at all. Of those that do, MOST receive Social Security disability income which is not enough to forestall homelessness ONLY 22% of homeless people have an income over $1000/month
274 were veterans
BECKY: So this means that of the 498 surveyed, 55% were veterans????
Santa Cruz County has 979 chronically homeless individuals. Chronically homeless individuals were most likely to be White/Caucasian (78%), have two more disabling conditions (68%) with the most common condition of
depression (53%) followed by chronic health problems (44%) and physical disability (42%).
• 52.4% reported that this was the first time they have been homeless. Of those who had been homeless previously, 87% reported homelessness only once in the past 12 months.
• The length of homelessness this current time was more than 1 year for 45.5% of the respondents
BECKY: In past years, the average length of homelessness was only 4 months. Now its more than a year. Our coping capacity has diminished while the need has been rising.
PRIMARY CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS w/ no mention of NO HOUSING… LOCAL RESOURCES
8 Primary Causes of Homelessness The most common response for the cause of homelessn ess was loss of employment (25.2%), followed by alcohol/drug use (17%), argument with family/friend asking them to leave (12.4%),
family or domestic violence (8.7%) and illness or medical problem (4.9%).
BECKY: What they fail to say is the primary cause of homelessness is lack of money While 17% report their homelessness was due to alcohol/drug use, this could have been an eviction for being found in possession or using, rather than non-payment of rent. Our studies have shown that alcohol/drug use increases as a response to being homeless rather than the initial “cause” of becoming homeless.
38.6% were counted in the City of Santa Cruz (1,070)
BECKY: With a population of 60,049, the city has a homeless population of 1.7%
Our homeless? Their homeless? 77% indicated they lived in Santa Cruz County for at least three years before becoming homeless; 12.2% lived in Santa Cruz six months or less before becoming homeless. 35.7% stay outdoors/streets/parks/encampments at night. Shelters account for 28.9% and 22% report living in their vehicles.
BECKY: These survey findings were more likely to be taken from homeless people receiving services so 28.9% report staying in a shelter when the actual data suggest that 23% were sheltered (646), Here we must consider that 100% of those sheltering were counted during point-in-time census while of those NOT in shelter, most likely 50% were never counted. We can trust that there are 646 shelter spaces in the County for homeless people. Therefore, if we consider those out of doors who were missed on the point-in-time count, we are sheltering only 10% during the times we have the most shelter available (winter).
TABLE 1: EMERGENCY SHELTER RESOURCES Total Beds Year-Round 344 Total Winter/Overflow Beds 106 263 beds TOTAL TRANSITIONAL BEDS SECTION ON THE HSC: HISTORY: “This concept of a day center had been supported in part by the business community as a means to help reduce impacts on the downtown. (At its April 7, 1998 meeting the Downtown Commission recommended establishing a day center for this purpose.)”
BECKY: So a “no loitering” policy makes no sense at the HSC
“For a short time beginning in 1994 the City allowed the vacant portion of the site to be used as an open air summer shelter. Use was discontinued in 1996 as plans developed for Community House progressed.”
BECKY: This was the Coral Street Open-Air Shelter built 4 70 ppl, but ended up serving 225 at a time. It lasted almost 2 years. It was closed when the City refused to fund one dime of it, and the “excuse” of a winter storm was used to close it. No one died in the facility during the course of its operation. Several former residents dies when it was closed, including a man who froze to death under the Dakota Ave. bridge a few months later. I later became a member
of the Board of Directors of Citizens Committee for the Homeless.
“In 2012,the City allocated $216,000 for improvements to HSC to renovate the “Locker Bay” area to provide a multi-purpose community room; empowerment center and computer lab; new lockers; a nd a dentist operatory. Construction is expected to begin in the next year or two for this project.”
BECKY: So far, they’ve taken OUT the lockers. So far, they’ve made homeless people’s lives worse.
“In 2008, the City property was appraised “as is” at $6.37 million.”
BECKY: So the City can close the center and sell it?
COSTS AND MOTIVATIONS FOR THE LONG-TIME ANTI-HOMELESS CAMPAIGN: BUSINESS BIGOTRY
OPERATIONAL FUNDING: “The City budget for the 2013 fiscal year allocated $69,000 for the Day Center and Paul
Lee Loft; $45,000 for the Rebele Family Shelter; $40,000 for the River Street Shelter; and $70,000 for Page Smith Community House. All but $16,000 of CDBG funds in this total of $224 ,000 is from the General Fund for
Community Programs. “the City funds a pro-rata share by population expenses for the County-wide Homeless Action Partnership and the north county Winter Shelter Program at the Armory (operated by HSC). This funding is from the General Fund under the City Manager’s Office budget. In FY2014 the City’s share will be $95,910.
BUSINESSES: The Victims “The overall impression of the business community is that homeless and/or transient individuals are driving customers away.” “Customers state they are reluctant to walk downtown because of the
general presence of transients and their anti-social behavior. ” “Customers do not want to be confronted by aggressive
panhandlers, be a target for verbal abuse and be fearful of some individuals.” “Customers and employees feel very uncomfortable when transients enter their store.” “Although they call 9-1-1, employees must deal with the issue of trying to move the individuals out of the store before they receive a response from the police. This is a huge burden, especially during busy times.”
BECKY; Police won’t respond to a complaint INSIDE a store?
“Dealing with the social issues takes time and focus away from running a business and there is an emotional toll from dealing with the social issues and also trying to reassure employees and customers that downtown is safe. ” “A theme in these visits consistently is the severely negative impacts of homeless and transient individuals on the businesses’success and employee safety.” “Remove human feces, urine, vomit, liquor bottles, cardboard and even mattresses from
business exterior. ”
BECKY: OPEN UP a public bathroom where people can use a toilet!! Duh!!
“Clean up and monitor restroom use. Restrooms have been used for bathing, drug use and vandalism. Some businesses control the use of restrooms through keys, while others have had to install token devices for their patrons”
BECKY: So where is a homeless person supposed to go to the bathroom if not where other people do?
“Install gates or fencing in the back of their businesses at significant expense. Recently a property owner had to install gates across the back of the building entrance because people were sneaking through during the day and hid
ing in the upstairs until the business closed.”
BECKY: God forbid a homeless person who has no other option should sleep behind a closed business! Here the business owner is the “victim” while the homeless sleeper is the perpetrator
“Install devices or remove objects on the building in order to prevent people from accessing their roofs, which are sometimes used for camping.”
BECKY: If people weren’t hiding from the cops for illegal camping, they wouldn’t be trying to sleep on rooftops (out of the way and unseen–the horror!!)
“Seal all entrances to trash enclosures which are used for camping and rummaging through recycling.”
BECKY: God forbid a homeless person should find FOOD in a dumpster, or pull out recyclables to turn in for cash!! Again, the person who is HUNGRY is the victim, not a business owner claiming he/she is “forced” to lock their garbage up lest it help some unfortunate person.
“Investment of funds for security guards or cameras. Some businesses are currently considering hiring their own security guards to pat rol right outside their store. Their employees and customers, especially women, get verb
ally harassed or intimidated. ”
BECKY: Security cameras are an ordinary cost of doing business. Most theft comes from employees. As for harassment or intimidation, I get plenty of that on the internet from housed people sitting in their homes on their computers!! Why blame homeless people for this?
“Many business owners and their employees have had their vehicles broken into and items stolen.”
BECKY: Homeless people are not any more likely to commit this kind of crime as anyone else. If you want a profile of a car burglar, they are generally male and under age 26. Housing status has nothing to do with it.
PERSECUTION IN THE PARKS
“The City has thousands of acres of regional parks, neighborhood parks and open space/greenbelt land, a rich resource that has been misused by ille gal campers for many years. Virtually alParks and Recreation field staff are impacted in so
me way by transient individuals. Whether staff is cleaning encampments, removing discarded personal items, handling discarded biological hazards, or, in some cases, being directly inhibited from doing their jobs through the actions of
some transient individuals, Parks staff deal with the impacts daily.”
BECKY: Actually its over 2000 acres and not one inch of it is a LEGAL campground! So where are people supposed to sleep? When its illegal everywhere, people camp/sleep anywhere. Note, the staff of Parks & Rec are the “victims” instead of the paid staff who destroy homeless peoples property and rudely move them along on sight.
“Park Rangers and the police have noticed heightened agitation in many transients as City efforts have increased to push them out of restricted areas and to address their illegal behaviors.”
BECKY: That’s because the City conducted unprecedented “sweeps” of homeless people last summer and, given there is NO PLACE for them to go, they objected. ANYONE WOULD!! Again the abusive and unsympathetic rangers & SCPD are the “victims” and poor, homeless people without a pot to piss in are the “perpetrators” committing “illegal behaviors.”
“The City has devoted significant resources to encampment clean-ups for many years, with focused efforts taking place since the summer of 2012, led by the Police/Parks Unit and the Ranger Program. Parks staff may spend upwards of $5,000 per month on contract labor, personnel costs, materials and disposal fees to clear encampments.”
BECKY: This cynically-motivated pogrom against homeless people was organized not so coincidentally with the bringing of the Santa Cruz Warriors professional for-profit basketball franchise to town. The timing of this draconian effort to drive homeless people around in endless harassment campaigns marks one of the darkest chapters in the history of homelessness in the City of Santa Cruz. Again, Parks & Rec are the “victims” forced to spend “$5000 per month” to destroy homeless peoples meager possessions and to throw away their vitally-needed camping gear.
“Initially, rangers will employ Santa Cruz Municipal Code (SCMC) Section 6.36.010, which prohibits camping within the City l imits during the hours of 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.”
BECKY: Actually SLEEPING is illegal between 11PM & 8:30AM. Camping is illegal 24/7.
“Rangers will also use SCMC 13.04.010, which describes limitations on access on park lands. This can include entering a closed area, having a bike in a prohibited area, or having a dog in a wildlife area.”
BECKY: HUGE areas of public space have been placed off limits to members of the public in a not very transparent effort to eradicate the use of those areas by homeless people. THis is a misuse of our justice system. Areas closed off for restoration must ACTUALLY be being restored. Not just a catch-all way of making homeless people into criminals should they try to use an out of the way place to sleep or to camp. Rangers shouldn’t have the task of doing our social engineering for us. Obviously homeless people have no money and need help. Turning them into criminals and removing huge swaths of public space from the PUBLIC is the wrong way to go.
“…being in a park after hours (SCMC 13.04.011(c)) are employed.”
BECKY: Hours of use are increasingly restricted and in many cases areas are closed entirely. This is not why the voters taxed themselves to pay for these facilities. they should remain available for public use.
ABUSIVE MISUSE OF POLICE TO INTIMIDATE THE HOMELESS
“In 2011, Police made contacts or responded to 1,567 calls for service involving illegal camping, issuing 615 citations (SCMC Section 6.36.010). That same year, Park Rangers made 728 contacts and issued 4 citations. On the aggregate,
this equates to a monthly average of 191 contacts and 52 citations issued for illegal camping”
BECKY; Note: just because its called a “call for service” doesn’t actually mean that someone called for service. Virtually all citations issued by Parks & Rec had no one calling to complain. these are self-generated “calls for service”.
“In 2012, there was a 24% increase in contacts/calls for service for illegal camping (1,948) and an increase of over 100% in citations issued (1,234). In 2012, Park Rangers saw a 34% increase in contacts/calls for service (973) with a 2,525% increase in citations issued (105). The increase in 2012 can be partially attributed to stepped-up enforcement efforts beginning in the summer in response to significant community concern about illegal encampments. This equates to a monthly average of 243 contacts with 112 citations issued for illegal camping.
BECKY: ALL in an effort to make way for a for-profit professional sports franchise that also used up 2/3rds of the Cities reserve funds to build it a stadium where only wealthy people will ever watch a game. There is no evidence that issuing a ticket for illegal sleeping will stop even one homeless person from sleeping illegally. It is just an exercise in torture with the “hope” the person will either leave town or die. Many do die. Has the City been made “better” by more than doubling the number of camping citations issued? If so, where is the evidence?
FIRE DEPARTMENT AND OTHER AGENCY PILE ON THE POOP
“Finally, as the following Fire Department section will describe, 49 grass, rubbish, and forest fires—or 15% of the total fires of these types—have been identified as being likely caused by homeless persons between 2008 and 2012.”
BECKY: Actually, several of these fires appear to be arsonists attempting to “burn out” homeless people as part of a vigilante effort which is not reported on by media, prosecuted by the District Attorney, nor are the individuals who did this pursued and arrested. Furthermore, during fire season, sometimes parks are closed due to fire safety dangers. Unlike others who are displaced due to fires, no shelters are set up for the homeless people displaced by these actions showing obvious discrimination in services based on housing status.
“On a daily basis, Public Works staff clean up feces, urine, drug paraphilia, and trash left by homeless individuals. ”
BECKY: Since there is a chronic shortage of public bathrooms for the 3.4 MILLION visitors Santa Cruz entertains each year, blaming “the homeless” amounts to vilification & scapegoating. The call to put Sharps containers widely throughout the City SHOULD be the official response. Only 17% of homeless people report having problems with drug/alcohol addiction. When the bars close each night, HOUSED drunk patrons are known to urinate frequently in public places, but are rarely held accountable.
“On a daily basis, staff dislodge homeless individuals sleeping in the parking garages and lots, and clean up the lots, garages, restrooms, sidewalks, landscaping, and bike lockers. ”
BECKY: So the PAID public works staffers are the “victims” and the people who have no place to live due massive manipulations in housing prices and cuts to human services, are the “perpetrators” and apparently the ONLY PEOPLE known to litter!!
“the public restrooms are heavily impacted most of the time”
BECKY: Oh, really? You don’t say! So when you don’t have anywhere near enough bathrooms, you blame homeless people (who don’t have a private bathroom) for both urinating and feces AND for heavily using the few public restrooms that ARE available? This is a failure by the leaders of our community to install sufficient public restrooms at all hours so that the public, visitors, and homeless people alike can practice proper hygiene.
“Another impact is the theft of recyclable material. At least half of the individuals that the City has caught in this illegal act are homeless.”
BECKY: There are very few ways homeless people can earn money. Most won’t ever be hired for a regular job. Recycling is one such way that has had the effect of cleaning up the environment for everyone. Part of the problem lies in the rules themselves. A person who has thrown an aluminum can into his own recyclable container,would be committing a crime if he/she pulled it out again. They are not allowed to let another person take the items out. This is a ridiculous restriction and should be relaxed. The number of citations issued could be cut in half by this simple change.
“The City has one Resource Recovery Collections employee working almost full time clean ing up illegal disposals, but the City estimates 1/10 of the materials coming directly from homeless individuals.”
BECKY: Well, at least they admit that 90% of the litter they find comes from housed people!
ENVIROMENTAL EXCUSES FOR THE CRACKDOWN
WATER QUALITY: “Staff report that there are sustained high levels of fecal bacteria indicators in the San Lorenzo River, its estuary, Antonelli’s Pond and throughout the City.
BECKY: This seems very damning to homeless campers EXCEPT that the vast majority of river contamination occurs between the Highway One bridge and the river mouth— the area where the San Lorenzo runs through the City of Santa Cruz. It is the CITY which is polluting the river, NOT homeless people!
FIRE DEPARTMENT: “Table 1. Percentage of Calls for Service Related to Homeless Individuals”
BECKY: Table shows that calls for service related to homeless people are in direct proportion to the number of people who are experiencing homelessness (1% – 3%) AND that these calls for service have remained consistent over time
YET despite the data we see this “explanation”:
“These figures fail to capture the true extent of the Fire Department’s services to the City’s homeless population (as homeless status is not coded in the data; see next paragraph) but they nevertheless reveal a significant finding: a spike in calls in 2012 calls for service that are readily linked to homeless individuals more than doubled from their 2008 and 2009 levels. Moreover, while the total number of calls for service received by the Fire Department jumped
in 2012 to 6,777, calls to locations closely linked to the homeless climbed at an even faster pace. Whereas calls for service to the homeless population constituted 2% of the total calls in 2008 and 2009, and 3% in 2010 and 2011, they comprised 4% of the total call volume in 2012. ” page 23
BECKY: In January of 2008, Santa Cruz had 12.1 inches of rain. In 2012, only 3.68 inches. in 2013 only 0.9 inches! So the fire dept. is blaming homeless people for the drought?????
“Anecdotally, the share of calls for service answered by the Fire Department that are as sociated with the City’s homeless population is certainly much greater than percentages found in Table 1. ”
BECKY: So, don’t look at the facts. Just listen to what I say, huh?
“from 2008 to 2012, 90% of calls for service associated with homeless persons were EMS calls. Put in the context of tota
l EMS calls for this period, the 756 EMS calls ”
BECKY: Eureka! We have the hidden homeless cost. Ambulance rides to the hospital! Perhaps housing them would be cheaper???
BECKY: While Fire Department response to FIRES related (possibly) to homeless encampments, (3% for 2012, the lastest data available) EMS response related to Homeless people is 91% for 2012. However, this does NOT mean that most 911 EMS calls are from homeless people. The dept gets/has 19,000 EMS calls per year of which 756 were related to homeless people or 4% of the total calls. this is only slightly higher than the percentage of people who are homeless within the City.
Calls for service by fire & EMS in immediate neighborhood of Coral Street: 2011 = 107 2012 = 197
FIRES BLAMED ON HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS 15% of 335 fires are listed as caused/suspected by homeless people
POLICE RESPONSE: “it must be noted that the Police Department does not track data about a person’s housing status. That is, similar to the FireDepartment, the police report form does not contain data fields to capture that information.
Therefore, to gather statistical data, citation and arrest reports were hand-reviewed for mention of homelessness in the narrative description of the call for service.”
BECKY: This is nonsense. The police report forms include an address field. If the person is listed as “homeless” “transient” or lists his/her address as “115 Coral St.” they can easily be sorted by homeless status.
THE PHONY CRIME WAVE
“the data collected were focused to answer questions posed in advance, many of which inquired about calls for ser
vice in the Harvey West Area and those of persons who self-affiliate with the Homeless Services Center complex by providing the 115 Coral Street address at the time of arrest.” page 26
BECKY: So in order to create the impression there is a “crime wave” around Coral St. services area, they ONLY provide data around Coral St? What kind of data gathering does this represent? You can’t compare apples to oranges if you only talk about apples.
Table 1 page 26 shows number of arrests & citations of only homeless people: SCPD 2012 arrests = 2,044 and Citations = 3,616 SCPD total arrests in 2012 = 4,908 showing 42% of those arrested are homeless. Considering that there are only 1070 homeless people counted in Santa Cruz, the SCPD are on the average arresting every homeless person in town twice each year.
Compared to Capitola police, Watsonville police, and Scotts Valley police, which only cite or arrest homeless people 7% – 13%
“These data show a few trends. First, SCPD is significantly busier than the police departments of the other cities in the County. With SCPD topping over 100,000 calls for service in 2012—an all-time high—this data are consistent with an over
all trend of increasing demands for police services in our City that is disproportionately large. SCPD has also noticed a steady rise in the number of calls for service in the Harvey West Area from 2008 to the present. ” page 27
BECKY: The data clearly show an over-the-top trend of making multiple arrests and writing voluminous citations by the SCPD. Since homeless people represent 1.7% of Santa Cruz population, yet constitute 42% of all arrests, no other conclusion can be drawn than the practice shows harassment, discrimination, and selective enforcement of homeless people under existing laws. Readers should remember that “Calls for service” are not calls for service. They are just in many if not most cases self-generated markers to record “work” done by police including regular patrols where no one called for anything.
“SCPD has also noticed a steady rise in the number of calls for service in the Harvey West Area from 2008 to the present.” — page 27
BECKY: While not providing the actual data to compare the Harvey West area with in order “to keep this information to a manageable level” we are to accept this anecdotal claim that crime is rising in these areas where homeless people are found.
“Of total citations in 2012 and 2013, about 30% are issued to persons who list 115 Coral Street as their address.” — page 27
BECKY: Since the City Council has chosen to pass laws againsts sleeping, using a blanket, camping, sitting, lying down, BEING in a parking lot or parking garage, begging, singing, using a sign, feeding birds breadcrumbs, smoking in huge swaths of public spaces out of doors, draconian closings of massive amounts of public space while selectively enforcing all of these laws against homeless people, you see the situation we have today.
“SCPD’s data show that multiple arrests are common and that 325 unique individuals who supplied 115 Coral Street as their address were arrested 1,259 times in 2012.”
BECKY: This is a textbook case of harassment of individuals based on their housing status. Santa Cruz will likely be sued for this and lose in court costing enormous legal costs with huge fines likely levied.
“Accordingly, a smaller pool of individuals are incurring a staggering number of arrests and consuming an inordinate amount of public safety resources.” page 27
BECKY: Seems like the SCPD is generating a lot of their own job security by scapegoating a few hundred people over and over and over again. this is torture. And it kills people with the stress too.
“As 82% of the department’s $22 million annual budget is composed of personnel cost s, and there are over 100,000 call for service annually (104,946 in 2012), a general cost of $180 per call for service is reached.”
BECKY: $22 million a year for the SCPD and homeless funding for the HSC & homeless funding = $224,000 from the General Fund.
“In 2012, there were 5,660 arrests or citations for persons listing 115 Coral Street as an address, which yields a
cost estimate of $1,018,800 to service those public safety needs.” — page 27
BECKY: That’s 4 times the amount we spend to feed, house, provide medical services, laundry, showers, bathrooms, and counseling for homeless people. What possible value do all of these arrests and citations of homeless people accomplish other than job security for cops and jailers?
“These guards have produced an improvement in safety and quality of life in these areas and the community has responded very positively to their presence. The program, however, comes with a cost of about $350,000 annually.”
BECKY: This First Alarm program to provide security guards for City Council offices costs $125,000 MORE than we pay for social programs to HELP homeless people.
‘Accordingly, this funding will be requested in a separate budget line item for FY 2014.” page 28
BECKY: $22 million and 100,000 “calls for service” aren’t enough? We need MORE MONEY for cops??? In what rational universe does this make sense?
CREATING CRIMINALS: TURNING THE HOMELESS INTO THE HUNTED
“The most common crime types are: 14 California Penal Code (PC) PC § 484A – Theft PC § 647(f) – Public Intoxication
PC § 1203.2 – Probation Violation SCMC § 6.36 – Camping in City Limits Prohibited SCMC § 9.10 – Panhandling (Prohibited Locations, Manner, Time) SCMC § 9.12 – Consumption of Alcohol in Public SCMC § 9.50 – Prohibited Conduct on Public Property” — page 28
BECKY: Note that intoxication and consumption of alcohol are legal on private property, hence they are ONLY enforced against homeless people who have no legal place to drink. Panhandling is a “crime” done by very poor or homeless people. It is questionable if it even IS a crime or protected under the 1st amendment as right to speech. “Conduct on public property” is where cops cite homeless people for sitting on the concrete lip of a treewell on Pacific Ave. or for sitting on a park bench wrong, or for standing on a water box, or for sitting on a drinking fountain. Again, housed people do these things all the time but generally are not cited. A probation violation could be as minor as jaywalking or smoking a cigarette on Pacific Ave.
“Also of note is the 2009 strengthening of SCMC § 4.04.015 “Failure to Appear or Post Bail” by the City Council, which allows law enforcement to obtain a warrant for arrest of any person who, in a six-month period, fails to appear in court on three occasions in connection with a citation issued for criminal violation of the SCMC.” — page 28
BECKY: And they say that there is no debtors prison in the USA!
“The City had been having problems with recipients of citations ignoring citations as there were no repercussions.” —-page 28
BECKY: If you call “no repercussions” a ruined credit rating, garnisheed wages, leans on bank accounts, losing one’s drivers license and income tax refunds forfeited.
“This code section establishes a misdemeanor offense for three failures-to-appear in a six-month period and allows for a warrant for arrest. This process proceeds through the City Attorney’s Office. ” — page 28
BECKY: This custom-designed draconian criminalization effort by City Attorney John Barisone reversed a trend to reduce over-crowding at area jails. It is not done in any other City.
“The City was not able to obtain information about court costs as these types of data are not collected.” page 28
BECKY: So in ADDITION to the $180 EACH for a “call for service” the taxpayers pay undisclosed OTHER costs for courts, lawyers, bailiffs, file clerks, jailers, and jails.
LOCKING DOWN THE LIBRARIES
IMPACT ON LIBRARIES “Staff notes that many Library users who carry their bulky possessions/items with them
and spread out over tables and aisles.” —- page 29
BECKY: This is surprising? that homeless people have to carry all of their possessions with them at all times? And again, the LIBRARY STAFF are the “victims” and homeless people and their meager belongings are the “abuse.”
“There are people who leave their belongings for long periods of time even though they have left the building. ” — page 29 “Patrons are limited to one hour’s use (of the internet) per day and they must sign up for time. Many internet user
s are anxious to be able to use the maximum time they are entitled to and this often leads to conflicts and aggressive behavior that the staff has to monitor. — page 29
BECKY: This sounds like the library should provide more computers to meet the need.
“Uncomfortable situations arise when library users whose body odor, or the odor of their possessions, affect patrons trying to work nearby. Staff have reported several instances of lice and flea infestations. Additionally, vandalis
m, drug paraphernalia, and garbage inside and outside of our buildings are ongoing problems.”
BECKY: Homeless people smell! Again, they who have little access to bathing or laundry facilities are the perpetrators while those who catch a whiff of them are the “victims.” We need to open more bathrooms, public shower facilities, and perhaps laundry facilities for those who can’t pay for them? Or are these passages just included to vilify homeless people some more?
“many homeless and/or mentally ill individuals seek refuge in the library as an antidote to the chaos and uncertainty they face on the streets.” “According to staff, the addition of private security guards has been a tremendous help to all
Library staff and their added presence has helped foster a positive effect on the atmosphere of the Library. However, illegal activities and anti-social behaviors, at least in part associated with homeless and/or mentally ill individuals
persist in the Library.” — page 29
BECKY: Translation– We are handling the problem expertly with our law enforcement resources but we still have an unmanageable problem. Way to have it both ways!!
TOKEN RESTROOMS DOWNTOWN–NONE AT NIGHT; MASQUERADING REPRESSION & “CONTROL” AS ASSISTANCE
DOWNTOWN RESOURCES: “The City has also implemented a Visitor Restroom Program, which pays a stipend to businesses willing to open their restrooms to all visitors.” — page 30
BECKY: HUFF called for this years ago to increase bathrooms downtown. We are glad the City finally acted on this. Now if they will go further and MANDATE that businesses over 1000 sq feet or restaurants must provide a bathroom for their customers, we can open up even more bathrooms.
“Participates in funding and administering the Downtown Hospitality Program.”
BECKY: these downtown Hosts are basically snitches for the police who run around telling people they can’t sit down or beg. They are very low paid and not well trained. A questionable asset.
“Contributes funding to the County for a downtown outreach worker (DOW) to provide services to people in need of social services…” — page 30
BECKY: What use is a social worker to refer people to programs with long waiting lists and disappearing budgets?
“Provides $25,000 for Homeward Bound services (administered through the Homeless Services Center, and M.O.S.T/DOW), a program that provides bus tickets to homeless people who want to return to their home communities”
BECKY: HUFF has received reports of homeless people who sought services and were told they could ONLY get a bus ticket out of town. Note that the funding for this program alone is 1/10th the cost of ALL HOMELESS SERVICES at 115 Coral St. While not necessarily bad, no one should be forced to leave town when seeking homeless services.
“Attempts to redirect churches and organizations that distribute food downtown to work with established indoor free meal programs.” — page 30
BECKY: Here charitable individuals are pressured, shamed, and harassed for providing free food to people who are obviously hungry and need help. Julie Hendee of the RDA harassed Pastor Adams to ending his program on the streets. This is a HORRIBLE use of public funds!!!
SOCIAL SERVICE FUNDING “In FY 2013, the City Council allocated $1,034,622 in General Fund dollars toward community programs.” — page 21
BECKY: total city funding for homeless services = $270,000 per year. Current funding represents a 25% reduction from 2009 when the City restructured aid
BECKY’S FINAL COMMENTS:
Additional funding for homeless-related programs but which provide no direct funding to homeless people cost $292,0008 (homeless census, Downtown outreach worker, Homeless management information system, etc.)
No discussion of housing costs, housing vs wages paid formula, or any claim that criminalizing homelessness is cost effective on any level. No documentation of actual drug use by homeless people was presented. No cost analysis of jailing costs to taxpayers for enforcing petty rules downtown.
Assistant City Manager, Tina Shull who authored this agenda, provides no data on homeless deaths which now number over 500 since the HSC started collecting data in 2000. Homelessness is described as “serious and complex” which “originates from a variety of causes.” Shull falls short of explaining the gap between the cost of housing in the City of Santa Cruz and the wages paid for jobs here, and how, as this gap widens, more people fall in.
NOTES BY NORSE: These comments were prepared at short notice by unpaid activist to counter official propaganda tailored to confirm an anti-homeless agenda being pushed by Councilmembers Robinson and Comstock. Also to justify existing city policy, no matter how abusive and inadequate.
The community, through the Sentinel,Good Times, and Weekly as well as the tv stations and KSCO, is being snowed with phony “Public Safety” hysteria which is being mobilized to support a mythology of a non-existent “crime wave” somehow to be blamed on Santa Cruz’s (mythical) tolerance of homeless people.
This is a long-time goal of the Take Back Santa Cruz NIMBYs (Not-In-My-BackYard) who have acquired political clout and power and are dressing up a dangerous and bigoted agenda in “mainstream” garb.
The City Council is largely a useless defense against this new know-nothing movement, because it has already over the years accepted the anti-homeless premises of TBSC. What’s needed is more documentation of the absurd costs and violent consequences of this policy in empowering police brutality, creating homeless misery, and bearing down on taxpayers with inflated police budgets (while ignoring the obvious like bathrooms, campgrounds, housing, rent control, anti-profiteering laws, etc.).
So get our your cell phones and start documenting everything you see. Take time even as you head to work to video–before you lose your jobs and end up where much of the middle-class is headed–on the street. Then post the videos.
One video, like that of Officer Vasquez sending Richard Hardy to the hospital (http://santacruz.patch.com/articles/use-of-force-or-abuse-of-force#youtube_video-14127462 ), has produced more public outrage and defensive SCPD activity than any other activity in recent years.