By Doug Porter
Editor Note: This Starting Line originally published on December 15, 2016 details the plight of homeless people and steps to solve the problem of homelessness as well as some thoughts on national issues.
Today I’m giving over most of my column to Women Occupy, who have crafted a petition to Mayor Kevin Faulconer to actually do something ‘not mean’ for our rapidly growing homeless population.
Yesterday I sat in on a meeting with homeless advocates and heard a litany of horror stories about how the growth of the population of unhoused humans in San Diego is directly related to policy decisions made at city hall. I’ll report more on what I learned at a later date.
Will this petition end homelessness? Nope. But it could well be –if enough people sign it and YOU tell your friends about it– a step in the right direction. Only in movies has a single action ever righted a wrong. Change occurs because of thousands of little actions. Make signing this petition your contribution to a better San Diego. It only takes a few seconds.
Emergency Humanitarian Action to
Stop Criminalizing Homeless People in San Diego.
By Women Occupy
As reported recently by the San Diego Union-Tribune, in the past 6 years, decisions by San Diego leaders of government and business eliminated 10,000 “affordable” units of housing, canceling out the entire amount added going back to 1979.
Even worse, just 543 permanent units designated for homeless people have been added in the past 10 years.
Since 2003, over half of the City’s single-room occupancy units have been replaced by market-rate hotels, apartments, condos and office buildings.
As a direct result of these policy decisions and priorities by San Diego officials, the population of homeless people in San Diego has spiked in the past two years, with a 19% increase in people who are unsheltered. San Diego now has the 4th largest population of homeless people in the U.S.
School districts report thousands of students who have no place to call “home”.
Emergency shelter for families with children is non-existent.
The number of people aged 55+ living on the streets has doubled in the past year. People of color are disproportionately represented.
As bluntly put by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s business columnist last month:
“No, the magnets of great weather and lavish welfare don’t explain such growth. Los Angeles County, with the same climate and larger subsidies, has cut its chronic population by 29 percent (to a still-catastrophic 12,354 people). Salt Lake City is down 98 percent, Houston is down 86 percent, and the U.S. overall is down 32 percent.
“In our burgeoning failure to house the most vulnerable, San Diego stands alone. We are a national disgrace.”
The Mayor of San Diego’s answer to the burgeoning population of people forced to live on the streets due to the his own decisions and actions over the past decade (2 years as Mayor, 8 years as City Councilmember) and those of his fellow officials and business leaders?
Direct the San Diego Police Department to engage in an escalating campaign of ticketing and arrests for obscure offenses in the Municipal Code, as well as plea bargains by the City Attorney to include “stay away orders” to keep people with no home nor shelter away from the very services intended to help them.
Concurrent with this campaign escalated in organized fashion this past March (leading up to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Comic-Con in July), a downtown San Diego business group’s monthly census shows a 68% spike in street homelessness since January of this year.
So clearly, criminalizing homeless people for harmless, unavoidable behaviors of sleeping and sitting, has not worked to reduce homelessness on the streets of downtown San Diego.
The use of San Diego Police officers to address the consequences of elected officials’ policies and actions has been criticized by many — including officers themselves — as contributing to the growing tension between law enforcement and the residents they are sworn to “protect and serve.”
On Monday, December 12, 2016, before the formal inauguration of the Mayor to a full 4-year term, a new City Attorney, two City Councilmembers to additional 4-year terms, and three City Councilmembers to new 4-year terms — a “People’s Inaugural” was held in an adjacent public square (see Photo above of the Voices of the City Choir, made up of homeless people and allies) to call attention to this failure of City leadership, and ask for the incoming leaders, old and new, to do better.
Specifically, we called upon all of these elected officials to support the following:
- “The Mayor of San Diego has the authority to direct the San Diego Police Department to suspend the Ticketing and Arrest of, and Stay Away Orders for, homeless San Diegans.
- “We request that the Mayor do so as an Emergency Humanitarian Action until permanent and safe housing is provided to every San Diegan in need of shelter.
- “This Emergency Humanitarian Action would be limited to the safe living conditions of unsheltered homeless people, and does not apply to any activity beyond that.
- “We respectfully request that the City Council support this Emergency Humanitarian Action by the Mayor, and call upon Mayor Faulconer to take this Action immediately.”
We also delivered this request to the newly-inaugurated City Council at its first meeting that afternoon, before it adjourns for the rest of 2016. And we delivered it to Mayor Faulconer’s office immediately afterward.
Please join us in signing this Petition to call upon Mayor Faulconer to take this Emergency Humanitarian Action immediately, in the face of winter weather.
As Mayor, he is responsible for the safety of these San Diegans who are left to our streets as a direct consequence of the decisions and actions by him and other San Diego government and business leaders over the past decade, which has decimated San Diego’s affordable housing stock.
For more information, see the San Diego Union-Tribune’s story on the People’s Inaugural.
Good Call at City Beat: No ‘Alts’ for Republicans
Seth Combs is the new editor at San Diego City Beat, and I’m liking what I’m seeing.
From this week’s editorial:
Moving forward, with the support and backing of the CityBeat staff, I have decided that the use of the word “alt-right” will not be used in the pages of CityBeat. There will be a few exceptions. If we’re quoting someone who is using the word, then of course we will quote them warmly and accurately. However, our writers will not be using it. If someone is a misogynist or has written things that could be objectively considered misogyny, we will report that. If someone posts articles on their website that align with the mantras of white-nationalism, we will report that. If someone uses anti-Semitic, homophobic or racist language, then they will not be considered to be part of anything far-right or alt-right. They will be called what they are: Anti-Semitic. Homophobic. Racist.
I’ll even take it a step further: Most Republicans in D.C. now seem content in accepting their party’s swift shift to the most base of bases. If they continue to be quiet in the face of appointments like Steve Bannon (man who makes Karl Rove look progressive in comparison and who has published articles openly and actively promoting misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, white nationalism and anti-Semitism) and don’t stand with Democrats in voting against Trump’s far-right appointments, then we should actively and explicitly begin to refer to these sexists, misogynists, racists, bigots, nationalists and xenophobes, not as the alt-right, but what they now themselves identify as: Republicans.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus has issued its ‘We Have a Dream’ policy document aimed at influencing the incoming Trump administration.
It identifies 232 Obama administration rules needing to go away before America can be Great Again. Everything from school lunch nutrition requirements to supersonic flight noise standards ( literally “Make Sonic Boom Again”) are on this right-wing do list.
Of course, you can’t have a major policy document without a slick cover and a snazzy graphic summing up your vision…
…and here it is (Really!):
On This Day: 1791 – The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, went into effect following ratification by the state of Virginia. 1890 – Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, SD, during an incident with Indian police working for the U.S. government. 1921 – The Kansas National Guard was called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburg coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation: they were christened the “Amazon Army” by the New York Times.
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