Human Rights abuse in itty-bitty Santa Cruz [link]
More info from:
* Dr. John E. Colby, the "Gorilla Advocate" [email@example.com]
* "Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF Santa Cruz)" [huffsantacruz.org] [firstname.lastname@example.org] [831-423-HUFF]
* NOTES BY NORSE are from Robert Norse, who is an organizer for "HUFF Santa Cruz". He writes, "I regularly provide commentary like this to stories I post on the HUFF e-mail list. For those who want it, drop me an e-mail at [rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]."
* "SANTA CRUZ'S PANHANDLING PROHIBITIONS" (2014) [link]
* 37 residents without homes in Santa Cruz found dead during 2013 [link]
* Thanksgiving meal recipient Ms. Jasmine Byron assaulted by off-duty SCPD Officer Joe Hernandez [link]
* "Homeless Veterans in Santa Cruz - Veteran's Memorial Hall Closure, Thanksgiving 2013" [link]
* Santa Cruz City Council considers closing recycling centers specifically to punish Homeless residents [link]
* Santa Cruz attacks independent arts, culture and artisan vednors [link]
* Homeless Dad and Son Still Denied Service at CruzioWorks Because of Classism! [link]
* 2013-08-16 "Santa Cruz harasses, arrests two for the crime of appearing poor" [link]
* "Right On!" Raven Resists The "Take Back Santa Cruz" Terrorism Tide [link]
* "Public Hysteria Citizens Task Farce Meets Again!" [link]
* 2013-07-10 "A Teapot Tempest or Two at Oral Communications" (including info about Santa Cruz Clean Team's abuse of homeless, transcript of video showing abuse) [link]
* Decrypting Santa Cruz "Public Safety" mythology against the homeless [link]
* 2013-07-04 "Security Santa Cruz Security Guard Thuggery Receives Go-Ahead on July 11th" [link]
* 2013-07-02 "Bike Church Calls for Restoration of Bike Distribution to Santa Cruz Kids Blocked by SCPD" [link]
* Santa Cruz outlaws freedom to hold a sign at certain areas in public [link]
* 2013-06-27 "Santa Cruz attacks Robert Brunett for the crime of poverty" [link]
* 2013-06-27 "Santa Cruz ACLU ignores Human Rights abuse against those without homes in Santa Cruz" [link]
* 2013-06-10 "New Anti-Homeless Laws Return for a Final Reading" [link]
* Santa Cruz's human-rights abuse against residents without homes: Video testimony of Casey Wright at Santa Cruz City Council [link]
* 2013-04-27 Poverty Crime in Santa Cruz: Walter Lilly [link]
* 2013-04-18 "Santa Cruz HUFF does what Santa Cruz Homeless Services won't" [link]
* 2013-05-29 Anti-Homeless Laws at Santa Cruz City Council [link]
* Santa Cruz's treatment of the homeless compared to other cities' Wet Houses [link]
* 2013-05-15 "Santa Cruz Clean Team attacks homeless, censors internet of evidence" [link]
* Santa Cruz residents engage in death-squad behavior against homeless [link]
* "Visible Sleepers" action for Human Rights in Santa Cruz [link]
* Santa Cruz HUFF organizer Becky Johnson statement of solidarity, and a look at City Council's Latest Anti-Homeless Propaganda [link]
* Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp is a snitch trap [link]
* 2013-04-16 "Santa Cruz harasses, arrests two for the crime of appearing poor" [link]
* Instructions for Homeless Self-Defense [link]
* 2013-04-10 "Police discover hidden underground tunnels used by the homeless" [link]
* 2013-03-22 "Human Rights advocates for the Homeless set to invade Take Back Santa Cruz's hate parade" [link]
* 2013-03-21 "Man steals memorial flowers while drunk in Santa Cruz, local fascists call for 'more Law & Order'" [link]
* 2013-03-16 "Santa Cruz Council Members threatening to restrict & destroy any homeless services that exist" [link]
* 2013-02-07 "Santa Cruz deals with the homeless of the Felton encampments as it would garbage. No rights, no recourse" [link]
* 2013-01-30 "Santa Cruz and Poverty Crime needs an investigation" [link]
* 2013-01-29 "Santa Cruz City Council's Public Safety Committee Meeting to discuss engagement in more Human Rights abuse" [link]
facts & figures from [www.180santacruz.org] (PK doc. Version 3.0 Updated 3/29/13):2,771 homeless individuals in Santa Cruz County
67% were already living in Santa Cruz County when they became homeless
63% of the homeless in SCC have a disability (serious mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, cognitive impairments from physical trauma and chronic physical illness or disabilities)
54% are homeless for a year or more
25% reported job loss as the primary reason for their homelessness
17% said alcohol or drug issues were the primary reason for their homelessness
49 = average age at death for homeless men and women in Santa Cruz County
78 = average age of death for all Americans
6 weeks = current wait time for an emergency shelter bed
67% homeless men in SCC
32% homeless female in SCC
1% homeless transgender or “other“ in SCC
11% are homeless Veterans
84% of homeless Veterans were unsheltered
11% of homeless women were experiencing domestic violence
Sources: 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey; 100k homes website; HPHP report on homeless deaths.
More info from commentators on various articles in this archive:
2014-02-08 NOTE BY NORSE: Santa Cruz, of course, has its own "blanket ban" (MC 6.36.010b) which is still used (though less frequently than the "crime" of sleeping(MC 6.36.010a), or that of setting up a tent against the rain and cold (MC 6.36.010c). A tip of the hat to Steve Pleich for bringing this story to our attention on his website. Now if he (and others he's recruited to the Board) would only draw the attention of the Board of the ACLU--where has been vice-chair for many months--I'd feel a bit of warmth against the cold. Not to mention the illegal theft of homeless property, the destruction of homeless camps, the ordinances and police practices driving homeless people from the downtown, the parks, and other supposedly "public" areas.
2013-12-25 NOTES BY NORSE: The winter (summer, spring, and fall) destruction of survival encampments has become a growth industry in Santa Cruz under Mayors Bryant and Robinson--with persistent, arbitrary, and destructive raids on the privacy, property, and well-being of those outside with no shelter.
The pretexts are age-old: environmental protection (but not the human environment), public health (but let's not build any 24 hour bathrooms), drug "crimes" (how's the prohibition war going for you?), and, the latest and most trumpeted but least substantial--"public safety" (gee, Martha, all those police calls and tickets for sleeping, sitting, and being in a park after dark--they're willfully violating laws that our police department advised the City Council to make!...and creating...a crime wave!).
The growing number of homeless people are a symptom of housing, jobs, war priority, and bankster fraud, it's become easier and more profitable to discover or attribute flaws, faults, and failings in homeless people themselves to explain away rent profiteering, job flight overseas, and a bloated corrupt and overpriced health care system. But let's just call them drunks, addicts, crazies, and lazies. Sort of what's always been done when you wish to dismiss legitimate basic survival demands and sub-humanize folks.
The city can't even see its way clear to two decent mass meals for homeless people per year (Thanksgiving and Xmas). Food Not Bombs has stepped in to feed on the sidewalk near the main post office today. Nor has there been any official provision for warming centers as the temperatures drop.
2013-12-06 NOTE FROM NORSE: Chuck Jagoda, whose letter is included here at "San Jose: Four people die of exposure overnight" [link], is a Palo Alto activist struggling--as any of us in Santa Cruz struggled two decade ago to open up the Armory as emergency shelter in the winter--though it served (and serves now) only a fraction (100) of the homeless community here (1500-2000). In Santa Cruz, it's also a costly psuedo-solution, run by the military which prohibits support animals, doesn't allow users to come in later in the evening if they have jobs, doesn't allow conjugal activity, can't be driven to directly, and is essentially one big room filled with 50-100 people on cots--which can be difficult when some are ill and some are Vets with PTSD.
The Homeless (Lack of) Services Center has recently been misinterpreting MC 6.36.055, which requires dismissal of camping tickets if one is on the waiting list of two always-filled shelters or if the armory is filled. Instead, I was told last week that being on the waiting list does not give you automatic dismissal of the $156 citations--as it has before the Armory opened. Instead the Armory must have been full that night--which is often only the case on rainy or cold nights. Harsher policies being followed by the city attorney in the wake of homeless-ophobia by groups like Take Back Santa Cruz have prompted misdemeanor prosecutions if more than three tickets are left unpaid for--with a fine of up to $1000 and a jail term of up to 1 year. These are terrorist tactics, used to appease bigots, who feel that harsher policies will make Santa Cruz "less welcome" and "less enabling" to homeless people, who, they mistakenly believe, flock to Santa Cruz to use drugs, steal, and harass customers and merchants downtown.
I have a dim view of the Armory, though I risked ail two decades ago to get it open. It is used instead of opening up buildings or campgrounds that would be much cheaper and more convenient. Under the incoming Mayor Robinson, who has asserted her hostility to homeless civil rights and homeless services and after the Council's acceptance of the Public Safety Task Force, things are likely to get worse.
"If you can't scare 'em out, starve 'em out..."
2013-12-05 NOTE FROM NORSE: Ironically it was during the Xmas season the attacks on homeless food providers in Santa Cruz escalated. Mass arrests began in January 1989 in a half-year long struggle that ended with the uniformed food filcher's giving up and (a) ending--for a time--their attacks on those regularly serving food outdoors to homeless people downtown, and (b) setting up a meal at 115 Coral St. (then a vacant lot and a garage behind the River St. mini-Shelter).
A year later police raided Las Chorales (or "Lost Charlie's" as some called it--on Front St. near where the Community Credit Union is now because that restaurant was both feeding the homeless and allowing tem to fall asleep--in the month after the earthquake. At that time Salvation Army and United Way made a nasty distinction between the pre-earthquake homeless and the post-earthquake homeless, cutting off the former and providing aid to the latter.
Keith McHenry's recent account of attacks on food servers can be hard on the audio file of my streaming radio show at http://huffsantacruz.org/radio/brb/BB%2012-1-13.mp3(1 hour and 47 minutes into the file). Keith has written about actions against Food Not Bombs chapters recently at http://www.foodnotbombs.net/fnb_resists.html and at http://anarchistcook.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-world-series-of-hunger-the-nationwide-campaign-to-hide-hunger-goes-into-extra-innings/ .
2013-11-12 NOTE BY NORSE: Santa Cruz's downtown main drag, Pacific Avenue, is now a curious scene of regular violation of the new Downtown Ordinances that exclude 95%+ of the sidewalks in business districts from sitting or setting up a table. The laws impact anyone with a "display device"--expansively described as "anything capable of holding tangible things" (i.e. a cup for a panhandler, a table for a political petitioner, a guitar case seeking donations for a busqueer). Almost every singer, sitter, performer, or vendor that I've seen is in technical violation of these ordinances since so much obviously innocent behavior is simply rebranded as "criminal". This fits in nicely with the right-wing claims of a homeless "crime wave" requiring public money and police attention--soon to be ceremoniously announced by Mayor Bryant's new Citizens Task Force on Public Safety (http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=1924 ).
Obviously uninterested in going after every instance of sit-crime, strum-crime, or sparechagne-crime, cops and their cheery parapolice pals the "Hospitality" Hosts walking the beat beside them pick and choose who to harass and "move along" or ticket. The casual and regular use of selective enforcement has soaked its way deeply into political acceptability as to be clearly visible almost any time of day along Pacific Avenue.
That's not enough for some CSO's (Community Service Officers) who reportedly loom over homeless folks thumbing through their ticket books announcing new unwritten crimes that require the sitter to be 50' from a crosswalk or building. Or suddenly a Host announces the homeless sparechanger is sitting in a "performance zone" (of which there are none) and must move on. And seeing to get a permit to play music or display artwork in more than 12 square feet is generally not an option, except in a very few locations (See "Shrinking Sidewalks and the Permit Fantasy" at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/11/09/18746169.php ). Some homeless wiseheads are learning to justify either their peaceful panhandling or their simply sitting by making colorful signs and selling them as artwork; this is similar to the brief rush of kazoo players a decade ago that hit the avenue when expanded forbidden-to-sit zones were created for homeless people but not those "performing".
And mass ticketing of homeless people continues in San Lorenzo Park as recently as 11-10, according to one rudely awakened sleeper.
Property seizures are still a relatively ordinary occurrence with receipts haphazardly given, much property being taken to the city dump, and the police property room open only two days a week for two hours on those days.
Coming up next at City Council tomorrow afternoon--investigation into the feasibililty of cracking down on homeless recyclers by relocating recycling centers to more distant places or eliminating them entirely. The City Attorney has already reluctantly told the bigotbackers on the Council that this conflicts with state law, but the "cut off all survival avenues" staff presses on. Julie Hendee, a particularly nasty entrenched city staffer was recently heard scolding a church group for feeding people in public on the sidewalk, urging them to move indoors and out of sight.
2013-10-10 NOTES BY NORSE: Santa Cruz's policy of "unwelcoming" homeless people involves arbitrary and unpredictable police and ranger behavior towards homeless property. Authorities claim now that they are storing homeless property when it's taken, but this does jibe with the accounts of homeless people who speak of their property being hauled away by city workers, or not being available at the police station. Even when police have it, they only allow homeless people to reclaim it from 12:30 to 2:30 PM, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Reports from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center indicate still no restored lockers there after several years. The new laws due to go into effect on October 24th downtown may or may not ban putting down a blanket on Pacific Ave. to sit on--depending on how the police interpret them. Though that may be academic, since the number of allowable spaces has shrunk almost to the vanishing point--not just for performers, artists, vendors, and tablers, but also for residents, tourists, and homeless people--who simply want to sit down. The diminished number of benches do allow you to sit for an hour (and as yet are not metered LOL).
The recent Host assault on activists peacefully protesting the Ordinances last Sunday has become quite a buzz on local websites and will be the subject of renewed protest October 13th at 1:30 PM in front of the Forever Twenty-One store (one of the few large sidewalk spaces left that will be shrunk-and-snatched on October 24th. For more on the Host incident, go to [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/08/18744527.php].
"Eugene Activists Force City to Act on Homeless Sanctuary Camps"
2013-09-30 NOTES BY NORSE:
Eugene pioneered the Safe Parking/Camping Zones, in part because of pressure from homeless activists there two decades ago and recently from SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) as well as an active leftist and anarchist community.
Meanwhile Santa Cruz drops deeper into paranoia and anti-homeless hysteria with the Take Back Santa Cruz-inspired Needle-Free Zone homeless-aphobiacs. The repression contagion has spread---now street performers, vendors, artists, and political activists are under attack downtown.
New laws go into effect in Santa Cruz October 24th that will limit performance spaces to a 12' square area and make traditional assembly and political activity illegal on 95% of the downtown sidewalks. These laws follow earlier ones that make it illegal to hold up peace signs on city medians (to outlaw panhandling there) and empower park officials to issue 1-day stay away orders prior to trial for "crimes in the park" like "trespass after dark" "smoking" and "sleeping after 11 PM". An expansion of the Smoking Ban downtown targets homeless people (in a recent New England Journal of Medicine study, 17% of the general population smoke as distinguished from 75% of the homeless population).
Instead of opening existing bathrooms for 24-hour use, authorities are setting up a fenced off segregated portapotty as well as funding a $100 "Security" gate and fence around the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center. Activist Brent Adams has put forward a Sanctuary Camp plan disdained by the City Council majority. Instead Mayor Hillary Bryant's band of bumbusters is backing a "Citizens Public Safety Task Force" which defines homeless survival activity like sleeping outside, camping in parks, and urinating and defecating in the woods as "criminal behavior".
Though the City has announced multi-million dollar surplus in their budget this year, none of it will be going to fund campgrounds or restrooms or showers for the most needy. Eugene soars on, while Santa Cruz descends into a darker period.
2013-09-24 NOTES BY NORSE: The latest Santa Cruz City Council's anti-homeless expansion of Smoking, Vending, Tabling, Performing, Art Display, Sparechanging, and Sitting Bans downtown are similarly camouflaged and rationalized as "congestion", "clarity", and "clean and tidy" aesthetic concerns. Today at Santa Cruz City Council at 2:45 PM supporters of a Downtown for All will be gathering to share food, experience, ideas and speak to the Community during the Council meeting (the Council itself isn't listening) in the brief televised period. That's at 809 Center St. across from the Main Library and Civic Auditorium. Bring instruments and friends.
Another "more respectable" effort is being made by activists supporting a Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp to the County Board of Supervisors--calling for a small tightly controlled "drug free" Camping Area. 9 AM at 701 Ocean St. on the 5th Floor of the Board of Supervisors. The supporters led by Brent Adams will be presented a business plan and may have recently gotten the support of Paul Lee, a local author and philanthropist who tried himself unsuccessfully to set up an Eco-Village a decade ago and a Community House a decade before that. In the 80's Lee supported activist Calamity Jane Imler's hunger strikes against the Sleeping Ban, police abuse, and the call for a cold-and-rainy-night Shelter. Adams has been a target of political repression in the aftermath of the Occupy Movement as one of the Santa Cruz Eleven--when hundreds occupied a vacant Wells Fargo-leased bank at 75 River St.
Santa Cruz activists have long agitated against Santa Cruz's Sleeping and Blanket Bans, which defines and criminalizes camping as sleeping after 11 PM at night outside on any public property, on much private property, or in a vehicle, even if legally parked on public property. It has its own "abandoned property" rule, and in today's City Council vote will finalize a severe shrinkage of space where homeless people (and to be "fair" this affects any one and everyone) can place their possessions if trying to display art, engage in political activity involving a table, vend anything, or perform music. This is a social sickness that is spreading everywhere.
The City's gentrification advocates are countering traditional toleration and compassion in the community (though not in the police, City Council, or City Manager's office), right-wing NIMBY's with the Downtown Association, Santa Cruz Neighbors, Take Back Santa Cruz, and other reactionary groups propaganda and agitation. These exclusionary Upper Class warriors are making much of the Drug War and a xenophobic "outsiders flooding our community". They can be seen in full frightening bloom at the Mayor's Public Safety Task Force. The group meets every Wednesday in October usually at the police department's Community Room on Laurel and Center streets. The public is generally allowed to watch but not to comment.
2013-09-10 NOTES BY NORSE: Fresno activists provide portapotty facilities and trash pick-up's for the surviving homeless encampments, and document the City's destructive activities--as shown below. They have also prompted renewed ACLU legal activity to require the City to live up to the "store, don't destroy homeless property" order of the $2.3 million Kinkaid settlement of 2007.
Santa Cruz, by contrast, has no 24-hour bathroom, and its only concession to homeless (and indeed broader public) health and safety is to spend $15,000 on a segregated fenced-off portapotty (still projected with no actual facility yet set-up) on the San Lorenzo levee.
The cost of renting a portapotty is $100 per month. Instead of using thr $15,000 to keep open bathrooms already there in San Lorenzo Park and the parking garages, Santa Cruz city council homeless-degraders are spending three times that amount to set up a "Security Gate" at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center at Coral St.
2013-08-16 NOTE BY NORSE: Santa Cruz homeless van-dweller Robert Brunette reported that a local judge turned down his request that he be allowed access to his towing-company-snatched van even though he never received adequate notice of hearing, and when he went to a CHP hearing, was denounced and expelled by a CHP officer.
2013-08-13 NOTES FROM NORSE: The climate of darkening discrimination in Santa Cruz has not yet erupted into arson as against the most vulnerable (though several fires have been blamed on homeless people). The new toxic climate that enables "trollbusting" has resulted in abusive police activity.
Incidents reported to me last night include reports of deputy theft and destruction of the blankets of a 50-year old woman and cops ignoring Santa Cruz Muni Code 6.36.055 which dictates that those on waiting lists for shelters are not susceptible to the Sleeping, Blanket, and Camping Ban laws.
Last week a homeless man reported he was given a 24-hour stay-away order from San Lorenzo Park for "sleepcrime" after his property had been twice stolen and thrown. Now active apparently is away the new "discomfort someone in the park with profane language, face a 6 months jail/$1000 fine sentence".
Meanwhile the closing down of the Page Smith Community House for three months renovation and the relocation of clients there into the spaces of the Paul Lee Loft, means there's zero "emergency" shelter (though there's been a waiting list for that for years as well).
Santa Cruz really needs some constitutional counteraction against its own Downtown Ordinances. For a toxic selection of these nasty ordinances see "Deadly Downtown Ordinances--Updated" at [www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/08/29/18657087.php].
As homeless people are increasingly caught up in a bogus "Public Security" crackdown involving private security thugs harassing the homeless around city hall, the library, the levee, and in the Pogonip, documenting these abuses with video and audio--and posting the accounts becomes increasingly important. A good place to post is [www.indybay.org/santacruz]. Plus you-tube, of course.
Steve Clark is a deputy chief of police. He has been known to be physically abusive to homeless persons.
How many disabled people will suffer if Steve Clark becomes Mayor of Santa Cruz?
Homeless activists must start scrutinizing SCPD Deputy Chief Steve Clark's oversight of SCPD harassment of the poor and homeless, as well as his role in breaking up peaceful First Amendment protected protests against City Council homeless criminalization.
From his comments on other forums, Steve Clark seems to despise disabled people — 63% of the homeless interviewed in Santa Cruz County reported having disabilities in the recent ASR survey of the Santa Cruz County homeless population [hwww.appliedsurveyresearch.org/storage/database/homelessness/santacruz/SantaCruz_ExecSummary_FINAL.pdf].
There are at least 1000 disabled homeless people in Santa Cruz right now. Steve Clark wants to make criminals out of them. If he is Mayor of Santa Cruz, we can expect more cuts in the few homeless services local government provides for these disabled people. We can expect more paramilitary sweeps of homeless camps.
It's time to organize to protect the (disabled) homeless in expectation of Steve Clark's run for Mayor. 1000 disabled homeless people cannot afford for us to be behind the curve.
2013-08-01 NOTES BY NORSE:
Santa Cruz has cracked down recently on vending artwork and services on the street in violation of the White v. City of Sparks ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1300114.html), and a local understanding reached several years ago between Robin--an artist selling his work on the street--and John Barisone, the City Attorney--who acknowledged police would be violating the Constitution if they continued harassing him. A costly settlement only awaits one of the city's over-eager newbie cops or security thugs and then some lawyer with itchy pockets.
New anti-homeless hysteria is being generated by groups like Take Back Santa Cruz [TBSC], and the Santa Cruz Neighbors, and supported by the Bryant City Council, the Bernal City Management Team, and the "Public Safety" Citizens Task Force (more aptly termed the "Public Hysteria Mayor's Task Farce"). The Farce meets every other Wednesday at the Police Station Community Room (natcherally) 6-9 PM. Its next meeting is August 7. When reminded to do so, city staff puts its minutes, staff reports, agendas on line--though still no sign of the audio (www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=1924). Public Comment is usually barred. The "crimes" focused on are homeless survival camping, drug and alcohol use, and the "disturbing" presence of homeless people in the sacred commercial and residential public spaces. Also to be spotlighted: the "enabling" menace of free food and other services (with the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center's Monica Martinez lining up to support ID programs and a "security gate"), and other NIMBY-generated issues.
Real violent crime is not the focus. Nor, of course, the continuing hate crime policies of destroying homeless property, harassing vulnerable homeless people, and prosecuting them for life-sustaining behavior like sleeping or previously First Amendment-protected activity like petitioning and protesting.
Recent exposure of the reactionary views of Steve Schlitt of the Task Farce (www.santacruz.com/news/2013/07/30/anger_over_leaked_facebook_post) showing the rotten underbelly of the TBSC-inspired group is no surprise, considering the leaders of the group are a Seaside Company flak (Reyes) & a notorious anti-homeless cop (Howes). The only novelty is the candor with which the group and those backing it express their anti-homeless bigotry. It's been traditional to mouth pro-homeless pieties while passing anti-homeless legislation and backing police seizure of homeless property, the Sleeping Ban, the Sitting Ban, the Tabling Ban, the Move-Along Law, the Curfews, etc. (e.g. Don Lane and Micah Posner).
Decrypting Santa Cruz "Public Safety" mythology against the homeless...
2013-07-06 "The Problem with All These Homeless People is..."
from NOTES BY NORSE:
...they lack homes. They ain't got housing. They have no legal place to operate from with dignity and privacy. They have been forced--most of them--into a furtive 3rd class citizen existence. Instead of respect, they get suspicion, blame, and abuse.
Contrary to the latest Santa Cruz "Public Safety" mythology, it's not that
...Santa Cruz is a "magnet" with its homeless-hostile laws;
...that the meager services (which really don't include shelter--except for 5% of the homeless) are too welcoming;
... that the homeless are addicts, alcoholics, and crazies who would naturally become homeless (the majority of homeless people are women, children, and vets)
... that homeless people "flock" to Santa Cruz because of its reputation for "easy life" (though the climate--like all coastal cities--beats Fresno, and many have roots here or are aware of the continuing cultural residue of a counter-culture here)
...that homeless people are producing a "crime wave"--as Deputy-Chief "Clatterbox" Clark repeatedly pronounces (unless you regard survival sleeping, sitting next to a building, peacefully asking for spare change, or drinking a beer in an out of the way place as being "crimes"--which Clark does; he should know, his SCPD got city Council to define these behaviors as "criminal".)
I'm hearing that the broader housed and tourist community got a graphic taste of the Police State at 10 PM on July 4th when massive lines of cops began "rolling up" the previously public space. All for our own security--of course.
Housing, work, and safety net repair for the disabled are the most immediate needs of the homeless population, say I.
commentary for 2013-06-29 "Say What? Chalking It Up to Big Brother, Guy Faces 13 Years For Sidewalk Slogans" by Abby Zimet [www.commondreams.org/further/2013/06/29] from NOTES FROM NORSE: While Santa Cruz has not cited or arrested anyone recently for chalking (that we know of--contact me at email@example.com if you know of any cases), the City moved to criminalize protest against the anti-homeless laws when they were ramped up in 2002/2003. The case of HUFF activist Becky Johnson: See [www.counterpunch.org/2003/02/22/hopscotch-rebellion] & [santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/2663/index.php] Given the step-up in First Alarm, Panther Protective Services, and other Private Security thug surveillance downtown and the massive response of the SCPD to minor infractions like sitting near a building or smoking near Pacific Avenue, I suspect any overt political chalking would result in another DTA-Take-Back-Santa-Cruz attack elementary First Amendment rights.
2013-06-22 "Alaska and Berkeley: Prejudice and Passion"
NOTE BY NORSE: Tip of the had to John Colby for passing on these stories. The Alaska "compassionate cop" tale assumes and promulgates the mythology that homeless people are homeless because of alcohol, drug, and "mental illness" problems. It's not a housing, job, or income problem (when it's a problem and not simply a life-phase or rebellion against the abusive social-political order), goes this status quo-buttressing mythology--it's the people themselves who are defective and need "to be fixed". This, of course, allows for the money that might be spent on the obvious solution--housing--to be rerouted to social workers, police, drug programs, psych wards, and other "helpers." It also paves the way for treating the homeless as incompetents who need to be forced to "take help". This encourages "solutions" that involve ignoring civil rights, forced "medication", homeless sweeps, etc.
It also sets the stage for treating homeless--as is happening in Santa Cruz now--as a "crime" or "public safety" problem based on NIMBY apprehensions, police-initiated legal definitions, and class war politicies. In my 25 years of direct interviews with folks outside, I've found less than 10% have an obvious alcohol problem. Maybe the snow in Alaska is toxic. If anyone has any local figures on Santa Cruz city or county, I'd like to see them. Stigmatizing the homeless community as disabled because of "illness" (whether alcohol, drug, or "mental") ignores the real disabilities created by sleeping bans, sitting bans, park closures, and other laws that destroy what community exists and aggravate confrontations with the police.
More typical, familiar to me, and positive (though still depressing) is the story of Sandy and others in this "invisible people" clip and story from Berkeley at [http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/2010/03/sandy-homeless-berkley]
In Santa Cruz it's illegal to sleep either in your car OR by the side of the road. Santa Cruz wins the "least enabling of bad behavior" (i.e. homeless survival behavior that annoys, frightens, or angers middle class residents and merchants.
2013-05-27 Note by Norse:
Santa Cruz continues to ban sleeping in vehicles on ALL public property, and has intensified this life-threatening restriction by banning parking at night on many streets. It has also banned being in one's vehicle while awake in all downtown city parking lots.
Coming up at City Council tomorrow are new laws that would ban standing on a median or resting on the surface of a roundabout as well as granting police and their para-military pals extraordinary powers to ban people from parks (for 24 hours) without trial or charge once a citation is written for ANYTHING. These ordinances are on the 3 PM agenda at City Hall. You can e-mail the Council to tell them, no thanks, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Recent attempts by a small group of churches (such as the Red Church--Calvary Episcopal) to create a 2nd Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program with rotating beds at a variety of churches has stalled with only about 20 people being served per night. Considering the population of Santa Cruz has 1500-2000 people who sleep out each night, this, though commendable in intent, is pathetic in consequence. As was the earlier ISSP, which only served 80 people at its highest point about five years ago before it was disbanded because of vehicular (gas and maintenance) costs.
Even more abusive, of course, is the anti-homeless Sleeping Ban ordinance (MC 6.36.010a) which bans all sleeping inside or outside vehicles on any public property (and much private property) anywhere in City Limits. Toleration of this unaddressed Shelter Emergency is, of course, part of the NIMBY wealthy-only perspective of the police, city staff, and complaint city council(s). Ironically it would likely cost far less to establish the health and rest facilities (campgrounds, bathrooms) than to clean up the environmental destruction and to pay for the police and court costs of citing/arresting/trying people for what they have to do every night.
Chanting "it's illegal, arrest them!" (as the Santa Cruz Neighbors, Take Back Santa Cruz, and other thinly-veiled hate-the-homeless groups do) is both dumb and sadistic as well as being costly. Unfortunately this is not a rational phenomenon, but an issue of prejudice similar to that which enslaved blacks, enforced racial segregation, promulgates racial profiling, and motivates foreign wars. Education, agitation, and organization are needed to combat this--and the power that comes with saying no to this NIMBYism.
Palo Alto activists need to be supported in their fight to retain the right to sleep in vehicles there (now under challenge), and organized sustained protests may be useful here to overturn these corrupt and cruel ordinances.
NOTES BY NORSE: Attempts by churches in Santa Cruz to protect and shelter homeless people have been mixed. The Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program--which operated from 1988 through 2010 (or thereabouts) involved busing homeless people to different churches every night and its height served 40-80 people. Since Santa Cruz has a homeless population of 1500-2000 and a law that makes homeless people criminal who sleep either outside or in a vehicle in the city limits--this had limited effect in combatting the fear and insecurity homeless people felt at night. The ISSP ended because of "transportation costs", as I understand it.
A new program spearheaded by Calvary Episcopal Church is housing about 20 people each night in a variety of churches. A Sanctuary Campground proposal is being hammered out by Brent Adams and others at the same time as there is rising hysteria against homeless people in a political "anti-crime" wave mounted by Take Back Santa Cruz, The Clean Team, and other "clean up our town" groups.
The Coral St. Open Air Shelter (1993-5)--a tolerated campground at River St. and Highway 1--was shut down by pressure from the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, and then-Mayor Mike Rotkin. Rotkin also moved against Father Mike Marini's Holy Cross Shelter subsequently in the summer of 1996 by (according to the recollection of Becky Johnson) inciting the neighbors against the shelter. Under his leadership (with Cynthia Mathews a loyal second), the Sherry Conable/Barbara Riverwomon State Parks Sanctuary proposal for the homeless (under which homeless would be bused to state parks to camp) was
Religious leaders, who were otherwise reactionary, have also played a role in standing up for homeless people by sheltering them in their church. See, for instance, [www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/066.Rev.%20Drake%20Wins%20A%20Moral%20Victory=10-97.pdf].