Panhandling

SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS CHANGE TO THEIR ANTI-PANHANDLING ORDINANCE

Currently aggressive panhandling and soliciting for donations from a median or off-ramp of a freeway is against the law. Their proposed changes would make it against the law to panhandle within 30 feet of an ATM, financial institution door, transit center, bus stop, driveway to a business, or directly from someone sitting in an outdoor café.

SHOC (Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee) has been attending community meetings, City Council and Law & Legislation meetings trying to convince them that these new additions infringe on protected free speech, to no avail.

If you pace out 30 feet, it’ll take you across a two lane street including car parking. The ordinance would make it against the law to ask anyone within 30 feet from an ATM, even if that person is not planning to use the ATM machine. 30 feet equals 60 feet up and down the sidewalk with the starting point at the center. Can you imagine trying to intimidate a pedestrian from 30 feet away? Having to shout out “HELLO, OVER THERE! YES YOU! GIVE ME MONEY….PLEASE!!!” “What?” “I SAID….”

At the same time it does not make it against the law to ask a stranger what time it is, or comment how you like their shoes within 30 feet. You can still legally approach someone at the ATM machine and say, “Did you watch the game last night?” Just don’t say you are poor and in need of some spare change.

These changes have been approved by the Law & Leg Committee and will go soon to Sacramento City Council for a vote.

Watch footage here

 

 

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Safe Ground Goes to Seattle

Safe Ground Organizes Trip to Seattle

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Let me tell you about our exciting trip to Seattle! Safe Ground met with City Manager John Shirey this past November and invited him on a trip to Seattle to visit several of their tent and tiny house communities. We were thrilled to find there was great interest by Sacramento city leaders in making the journey with us. Included in this monumental journey were Sacramento City Manager John Shirey, Assistant City Manager Dangberg, City Council Members Harris, Hansen, Guerra and Shenirer, Chief of Police Somers and two others from the Police Department, City Attorneys Trimm and Benner, two from the Mayor’s office, Homeless Services Coordinator Emily Halcon, SSF CEO Ryan Loofboourrow, two Realtor’s Association representative, a photographer, Bee reporter Lillis, author Bill Vollman, and three members from Safe Ground Sacramento.

The purpose of our February 26th trip was to learn about the variety of innovative programs that serve homeless people unable to access conventional shelter and housing in Seattle. Our hosts were members of SHARE WHEEL and residents of their three tent and tiny house communities. We toured SHARE WHEEL’s Tent City 3, Tent City 5, Nicklesville in Ballard, and had a lunch meeting with members of SHARE and WHEEL, Low Income Housing Institute, and residents of the three locations. After the lunch Q&A session, Sacramento City leaders met with their Seattle counterparts.
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Our first stop, Tent City 3 was located out in the suburbs behind their current Church host where they had just stayed for three months. They were getting ready to move to a new location, a University close to downtown Seattle. They have agreed to move the entire encampment every three months. Our second stop was Tent City 5, a place located closer to downtown. Tent City 5 was allowed to stay at their location longer than 3 months. Our last visit was Nicklesville at Ballard, where they provided a mix of tents and tiny houses.

All three communities have proven to their hosts and the surrounding residents to be good neighbors, making security patrols every night and doing daily “trash busting” to keep the neighboring areas clean. The communities are run by the residents with a weekly rotation of four executive committee members. Members are required to participate in weekly Libby photo 3meetings and chores. There are no drugs or alcohol allowed and residents are expected to maintain a basic code of behavior. Though there was a limited amount of tents at each encampment, each site had an overflow tent which resulted in them never having to turn away a homeless person in need of shelter for the night.

We heard from residents about their roles in the community and how the encampments have brought safety and stability to their lives, where otherwise they would be isolated and exposed to the harsh, wet Seattle weather. They have grown a great deal by learning to live in community and developing as leaders and advocates. Housing is very expensive and rising in the area, so living in the tent cities is the next best thing until they are able to find work and find a place they can afford.
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The non-profit, SHARE WHEEL, provides support and oversight of the encampments. They also run several indoor emergency shelters. Read about their great programs and interesting history at http://www.sharewheel.org/

Safe Ground Sacramento  is inspired and invigorated by our visit and we are actively taking advantage of the momentum!

Here’s more photos

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Sacramento Occupation of City Hall

Press Release from James Lee Clark – Tuesday, January 19, 20163faygo

DAY 43: City Hall Homeless Protest. DAY 8: City Hall Homeless Hunger Strike.

City Council Takes Up Homeless Task Force Tuesday Night; Protesters Demand Homeless Members be Included in Task ‘Farce’

SACRAMENTO (City Hall) – Dozens of homeless camp protesters and supporters will pack City Hall for the Sacramento City Council meeting Tuesday night, demanding inclusion of the homeless on a City Task Force on the Homeless. The taskforce is on the council’s agenda Tuesday evening.

Advocates will begin protesting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall Homeless Camp, which began on December 8. Tuesday is DAY 43 of the sustained homeless protest at City Hall, despite more than a dozen arrests for “unlawful camping.”

James Clark, an organizer and spokesperson for the month-long homeless protest camp at City Hall, marks his 8th day without food Tuesday. Clark has said he will hunger strike until the new City Task Force on Homeless invites three people from the homeless protest to be on that task force.

The city of Sacramento has not responded.

The homeless group released this statement:

“January 5th Mayor Kevin Johnson set up a task ‘farce’ to address homelessness. He appointed three council members, and no homeless. The next week James Lee Clark (Faygo) began a hunger strike demanding that no less than three members of the homeless community be added to that task farce. This week the last item on the agenda is a report back on that task force. (we demand) the city comply by adding three members of the homeless community to the task force so it can have a real effect!

“Since December 8th we have been occupying city hall for the #Right2Rest. the response has been militaristic police enforcement against the occupiers/protesters. On January 2nd over 50 Sacramento police raided (mostly in riot gear) and arrested 7 (4 booked, 3 cite and release {still an arrest}). There has been regular arrests since. On January 9th the city stepped up again by sending over 40 officers to confiscate our supplies, and make further arrests of event organizers. (We will) express our outrage at both the mistreatment of our homeless/protesters, and excessive waste of city resources used to do so.”

The Dept. of Justice has issued a statement of interest in a federal case in Boise, in which seven people sued the city over their conviction for the “crime” of camping. The DOJ in August of 2015 said bans on sleeping in public are unconstitutional.

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Criminalization of Homelessness & Poverty in 2014 Media – from WRAP

Western Regional Advocacy Project recently shared the following links on their newsletter. The articles are mostly about Homeless Bill of Rights and Criminalization of homelessness. Much news is about WRAP and WRAP activities. This is a good time to reflect on the year behind us with the help of the following reading materials. And then we may have a clearer vision for the year ahead and the eventual end to laws against homelessness and class exclusive policies. And as we become more resolved for the fight ahead, we could appreciate and help fund the group that will help us get there – www.wraphome.org

December 31, 2014 Aljazeera America “US homeless pin hopes on ‘Bill of Rights’ to end criminalization in 2015 – 2014 saw increase in laws targeting homeless, but grassroots efforts aimed to help get people off the streets” by Renee Lewis http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/31/us-homeless-pin-hopesonbillofrightstoendcriminalizationin2015.html

December 16, 2014 The Outsider “The hidden epidemic of youth homelessness” by Laura Waxman http://theoutsidernews.com/articles/2014/12/16/hidden-epidemic-youth-homelessness

December 2, 2014 Street Roots “Pressing the issue: Art Hazelwood’s imagery and action on the homeless front” by Emily Green http://news.streetroots.org/2014/12/02/pressing-issue-art-hazelwoods-imagery-and-action-homeless-front

November 21, 2014 Santa Barbara Independent “The Homeless Bill of Rights – Reclaiming Our Public Square” by Mariah Brennan Clegg http://www.independent.com/news/2014/nov/21/homeless-bill-rights/

November 20, 2014 Truthout “San Francisco Homeless Advocates to Public Transit Police: “Stop Criminalizing Homelessness” by Andrew Klein http://truth-out.org/news/item/27537-san-francisco-homeless-advocates-to-public-transit-police-stop-criminalizing-homelessness

November 17, 2014 Governing “America’s Troubled War on Homelessness” by Stateline http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/americas-troubled-war-on-homelessness.html

November 17, 2014 SF Gate “State among worst on issue of child homelessness, report says” by Heather Knight http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/State-among-worst-on-issue-of-child-homelessness-5899435.php

November 7, 2014 Aljazeera America “Homeless dragged down by belongings, as cities view keepsakes ‘trash’ – Having to lug around possessions for fear of theft or confiscation keeps individuals from social programs, opportunities” by Renee Lewis http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/7/homeless-americansdraggeddownbyneedtocarrybelongings.html

October 23, 2014 The Nation “Can a ‘Homeless Bill of Rights’ End the Criminalization of LA’s Most Vulnerable Residents? After years of harassment by the police, homeless Angelenos and their allies fight back” by John Thomason http://www.thenation.com/article/184673/can-homeless-bill-rights-end-criminalization-las-most-vulnerable-residents#

October 20, 2014 Aljazeera America “Report: 21 US cities restrict sharing food with homeless people – Seattle, Houston and Salt Lake City are among places restricting food sharing, advocacy group says” by Deepashri Varadharajan http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/20/cities-restrict-sharingfoodwithhomelesspeople.html

October 13, 2014 Street Spirit “WRAP Fights to Protect the Right to Rest — and Exist” by Paul Boden and Terry Messman http://www.thestreetspirit.org/wrap-fights-to-protect-the-right-to-rest-and-exist/

October 6, 2014 Vice News “A Growing Movement Is Fighting the Criminalization of Homelessness” by Alice Speri https://news.vice.com/article/a-growing-movement-is-fighting-the-criminalization-of-homelessness

October 6, 2014 Aljazeera America “Homeless Bill of Rights aims to protect life-sustaining activities – Rights to move freely, sit, sleep and have access to hygiene facilities cited in surveys of 1,300 homeless people” by Renee Lewis http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/6/holdholdholdhomelessbillofrightsaimstoendcriminalization.html

August 13, 2014 Bill Moyers “No Safe Place: How Cities Are Making it Illegal to Be Homeless” by Michael Maskin http://billmoyers.com/2014/08/13/no-safe-place-how-cities-are-making-it-illegal-to-be-homeless/

July 19, 2014 Alternet “Laws Targeting Homelessness Have Increased Dramatically Across the Country – A new report finds these laws are being passed with wide voter approval.” by Evelyn Nieves http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/laws-targeting-homelessness-have-increased-dramatically-across-country

July 16, 2014 USA Today “Report: More cities pass laws that hurt the homeless” by Marisol Bello http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/16/criminalizing-homeless-no-camping-laws/12723745/

July 16, 2014 New York Times “Shunting the Homeless From Sight” by the Editorial Board http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/opinion/Shunting-the-Homeless-From-Sight.html?_r=2

July 2, 2014 Street Roots “Paul Boden and the history of homelessness as we know it today” by Israel Bayer http://news.streetroots.org/2014/07/02/paul-boden-and-history-homelessness-we-know-it-today

June 3, 2014 Think Progress “Mayor Proposes ‘Compassionate Disruption’ Law to Criminalize Homelessness” by Scott Keyes http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/06/03/3443963/honolulu-mayor-homeless/

March 31, 2014 AlterNet “United States Is Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading to Poor, UN Report Charges – The UN Human Rights Committee says the U.S. should stop criminalizing homeless people for being homeless” by Evelyn Nieves http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/un-human-rights-committee-united-states-cruel-inhuman-and-degrading-poor

[Truth be told – this is my January reading – Thanks]

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Big Rock Candistoria

When I was at the National Healthcare for the Homeless Conference in New Orleans in May, I was introduced for the first time to Cantistoria, an art form of telling stories with pictures. Caitlin May incorporated song, props and theatrics in her Big Rock Candystoria, the story of the big pickle we’re in and the history of homelessness.

This video was taken by Josephine Ensign of Caitlin reheasal http://youtu.be/_7szkCa2k7I

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Cease and Desist

CEASE AND DESIST

We insist that you immediately:

Quit criminalizing homelessness!

Quit harassing, ticketing or threatening to ticket people for living outdoors; for sitting, praying, laying down, standing or resting on public property as long as they are not blocking passages and entrances!

Quit attempting to rid homeless people from downtown or other areas, unless those attempts involve providing housing, shelter, or areas where homeless people can set up a tent near sanitation facilities – voluntarily!

Quit similarly prohibiting or discouraging people from being in their legally owned and registered vehicles!

Quit locking up and otherwise decommissioning public restrooms!

Quit harassing, ticketing or threatening to ticket individuals and groups from eating and sharing food!

Quit prosecuting infractions without allowing and providing legal counsel!

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The above policies inflict added hardships on homeless people, endangers their lives, and prevent them from achieving the stability necessary to end their homelessness.

These restrictions we would place on you are in no way asking you to behave in any way contrary to a good conscience. Though this cease and desist order is not intended to be directly associated with any consequential legal threat—we demand this for the good of homeless and other residents of Sacramento. We demand a more moral and just Sacramento! 

We do, though, hereby pledge to pursue justice in whatever manner we find at our disposal, including but not limited to organizing with other West Coast cities for state-wide Homeless Bills of Rights. We pledge to be unrelenting in insisting on your respect for and protection of human rights, and in restricting you from further criminalization of homelessness and poverty.

We also hereby beseech you to take serious steps towards ending homelessness by more proven and prudent measures, such as the provision of housing, jobs, and other programs designed to help homeless people accomplish stability and prosperity.

This is a moral imperative!

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Austerity

A Book Sleeve Review

Austerity – The History of a Dangerous Idea

by Paula LomazziAusterity

“Austerity – The History of a Dangerous Idea” written by Mark Blyth, looks like it might be a very good book and filled with important knowledge that I don’t know much about. I might read it, but then again, I might not get around to it before it becomes due back to the library. But I did read the book’s cover sleeve—you know, the inside flap that tells you something about the book, a blurb written by the publisher (in this case, Oxford University Press).

To quote the book sleeve inside flap, “Politicians today in both Europe and the United States have succeeded in casting government spending as reckless wastefulness that has made the economy worse. In contrast, they have advanced a policy of draconian budget cuts—austerity—to solve the financial crisis. We are told that we have all lived beyond our means and now need to tighten our belts. This view conveniently forgets where all that debt came from. Not from an orgy of government spending, but as the direct result of bailing out, recapitalizing, and adding liquidity to the broken banking system. Through these actions private debt was rechristened as government debt while those responsible for generating it walked away scot free, placing the blame on the state, and the burden on the taxpayer.”

The blurb on the inside flap further warns us that “austerity” is being implemented globally, reducing wages and prices, but the problem is that it doesn’t work. If one state tried to cut their way to economic growth that might be okay, but when it’s done everywhere simultaneously, it only shrinks the economy. Instead of growing the economy, it leads to low growth with increases in wealth and income inequity.

We should take the message in this flap very seriously, actually. We are seeing austerity measures all around us, and are starting to feel the crunch. Those experiencing poverty are being further crushed and denied adequate safety net support, and as they are further pushed out of the economy by the resulting income disparity, criminalization measures are increasingly implemented by cities to further blame the poor and homeless for their inability to earn enough money to afford housing that has become increasingly out of the price range of even the employed. Long sentence short: We’re getting screwed, while the extremely rich are getting even more extremely rich.

 

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