Monterey Crowd Defends Homeless Rights; Council Backtracks Slightly (CORRECTED)


I reported on a Monterey City Council meeting that turned back 1 of 3 anti-homeless measures being proposed for study several days ago.  There were several significant typos in the story (“11 AM” should have read Continue reading

Redding Website for Homeless Rights on the California Bill of Rights and Fairness Act

NOTE BY NORSE:  Activists may already be aware of AB 5, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Homeless Bill of Rights.  Here it is briefly mentioned, but I am forwarding this Redding posting, because it also gives the blog site for some homeless activists up there.  I’d like to see all Continue reading

Texan Starve-Out?

Kitchen closed: Catholic worker house shut down

SAN ANTONIO — A city code inspector slapped the Catholic Worker House with a violation for serving food to the homeless without the proper permit.

Some people consider the Catholic Worker House a threat to neighborhood safety and property values, and they are relieved the place is temporarily shut down and unable to serve meals to its homeless clientele.

The Director of the Catholic Worker House, Chris Plauche, said an inspector with Code Compliance notified her about the violation last Friday.

“These crock pots are the problem,” stated Plauche.

We’re told she doesn’t have the right permit to serve food from the remodeled home on the East Side.

“We feel Jesus always looked out for the neediest and cared for the neediest,” Plauche told us.

They shut down immediately.

“For years, volunteers have served hot food to the chronically homeless,” said Plauche.

Out back, a wooden deck with plenty of seating overlooks a garden which serves as an example of how the place has grown over the years. During that time, a lot of controversy has cropped up too.

“I know they are doing a good deed, but it’s scary,” insisted Charlene Handy.

She hopes hopes the Catholic Worker House remains closed. A sign on the front door directs the homeless to other places for food. Handy is fed up with people hanging out, publicly urinating and littering.

“It’s scary having guys and even women walking up and down the street,” Handy added.

She said someone recently broke into her home, and she points a finger down the street, toward the Catholic Worker House.

Plauche is a fighter who has weathered problems before.

“Every time they’ve closed our doors, we’ve come back stronger and with more community support,” she told us.

Some homeowners believe her doors should stay open, if volunteers can do more to control problems. Homeowners said the place has raised concerns about crime and and lowered property values on the East Side.

Showers? What a Concept

NOTE  FROM NORSE:   Public bathhouses, 24-hour bathrooms, 21st Century health standards–all something Santa Cruz has yet to pick up on.

Tech entrepreneur is converting retired city buses into showers for the San Francisco homeless

San Francisco is teeming with tech entrepreneurs who want to save the world but who’ll pass by the homeless person on the street without a second glance.

Doniece Sandoval, a Bay Area tech entrepreneur, is not one of them. Her latest trick? Turning retired city buses into mobile showers for the homeless. The initiative, known as Lava Mae, is a response to a desperate need in the city. According to the most recent count, more than 6,500 homeless people sleep on the street or in shelters in San Francisco, and there are only eight shower facilities specifically available to the homeless, and most of these have just one or two stalls and aren’t open every day.
lavamae_1339430086_600 Doniece Sandoval is working part-time to convert MUNI buses into shower facilities

It all started two years ago when Sandoval hopped in a cab after a meeting in the south of market (SoMa) district of San Francisco, which is primarily inhabited by startups and the homeless.
“My driver turned around and said, ‘welcome to the land of broken dreams.’” Sandoval  snapped out of her reverie and started to really look at the people around her.

“The woman I passed was crying and saying that she would never be clean,” Sandoval recalled, her voice cracking. While this sentiment might have multiple layers of meaning, she took it as a sign that she should focus on the issue of hygiene, one of the most pressing needs in the homeless community.

After mulling it over and doing some research, Sandoval hit on the idea of a mobile unit that could be outfitted with shower facilities. Access to water and sanitation is a basic human right, so as a short-term solution, why not put a shower on wheels?

The project has been several years in the making — and still won’t be operational for several more months — as it has not been easy to get the city’s regulators on board. “There have been a lot of uphill battles,” Sandoval admits. But she has reached an agreement with the transit authorities, which will donate the buses being retired in the next four years. The buses will tap into fire hydrants wherever they go, an ideal water source.

Project Homeless Connect, the Bay Area group that is on a mission to improve communication among service providers, has agreed to support Lava Mae. Once the basic need for sanitation is met, the hope is that San Francisco’s homeless will be better-equipped to find long-term jobs and other opportunities.
A broader goal is to shine a light on the real face of homelessness in San Francisco.

“You would be shocked at how many well-dressed people there are sitting next to you in San Francisco coffee shops who don’t have a place to live,” said Marc Roth, an entrepreneur who lived in shelters, in his car, and on the streets until the day he walked into TechShop, spent on his last cent on manufacturing classes, and picked up a soldering iron. Roth is now thriving; with a newly funded business (a laser company), he’s a living testament that the right program can make all the difference.

Likewise, Sandoval is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She’s the founder of Idea Mensch, an online community where entrepreneurs can share their stories, and currently works for Zero1, an art and technology network. She believes San Francisco’s residents have a real opportunity to use their unique talents for good.

Her plan is to provide 100 to 200 showers each day, as well as a private changing room and bathroom facilities. To ensure the process works seamlessly, she is working with a design firm on the prototype for the first bus.

“We will start with one bus, but will share this idea with communities across the country to make a difference on a national-level,” she said.