Amikas Emergency Housing Expo
By Anna Daniels
The super bloom of wild flowers in the most inhospitable of places–the Anza Borrego desert– has captured the attention of San Diegans, who are flocking to get a glimpse of this short lived phenomenon.
Closer to home, an equally remarkable blossoming takes the form of the cluster of cabins that has sprung up like wild flowers at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in North Park. San Diego has been the most inhospitable of places for enacting solutions to our growing humanitarian crisis of homelessness. Volunteer activists from Amikas have stepped into the leadership vacuum, displaying what can be done to address the immediate housing needs of the most vulnerable among us.
The demonstration project that volunteers designed and are building on the church site represent one low cost, practical approach to providing bridge housing by way of small communities with safe sleeping cabins. What is eminently doable and practical is currently hamstrung by the inadequacies of California law in providing legal status for this approach. The intent of this expo which runs from March 15 to 26 is to not only increase awareness of what this kind of community would look like but to build public support for amending the California Shelter Crisis Act, similar to what San Jose did last year.
Jeeni Criscenzo, Amikas president and San Diego Free Press contributor describes why these communities of small houses are capable of addressing the need for emergency and bridge housing:
What San Diego has been doing so far isn’t working – tents and tarps on our sidewalks are a disgrace, are not safe for the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, and are hurting San Diego residents and businesses. We can do the compassionate and reasonable thing and all be better off for it.
Just as there are many paths to becoming homeless, we need many options for both emergency and permanent housing for those who find themselves without a home. Emergency Bridge Housing Communities with Emergency Sleeping Cabins like those we are displaying at the Expo can fill a critical role in a plan that should accommodate the diverse needs and situations involved in getting people housed.
My vision is that we soon reach the point where any mother with children, woman, elderly person, disabled person, or young person (especially LGBTQ youth), will never spend the night on the streets of San Diego because there was no safe place for them to go.
This is something we can implement quickly with minimal community push-back and for far less money than conventional shelter solutions. More important, these cabins offer the safety, dignity and autonomy so essential for being able to focus on getting your life back on track.
Emergency & Very Affordable Housing Expo Schedule of Events:
On the grounds of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 3725 30th St (North Park)
Thursday, March 16
10am-3pm Student Day at Expo – RSVP Lisa Kogan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 17
8am-11am Homeless Advocates’ Breakfast – RSVP Jeeni Criscenzo – email@example.com
11am-3pm Expo Open House
Saturday, March 18
2pm-7pm Expo Open House
Sunday, March 19
8am-3pm Expo Open House – Faith-based Day – RSVP Viola@amikas.org
Monday, March 20
5pm-7pm Expo Open House
Tuesday, March 21
3pm-6pm Emergency Housing Legal Workshop – RSVP Shanna Welsh Levin – firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 22
9:am-11am MAPSS Meeting & breakfast
11am-1pm Expo Open House – Veteran’s Day – RSVP Rev. Susan Astarita email@example.com
Thursday, March 23
3pm-7pm Expo Open House – Developer’s Day – RSVP Jeeni Criscenzo firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, March 25
10am-3pm Housing Solutions Festival
Sunday, March 26
10am-3pm Hospitality Day for Our Homeless Friends