California Homeless crisis Stop violating unhoused Human Rights All people deserve dignity

California Homeless crisis Stop violating unhoused Human Rights All people deserve dignity

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Crystal Sanchez started this petition to Governor Gavin Newsom and

“You need to be held accountable”

President of the Sacramento Homeless Union, On behalf of the

California Statewide Organizing Council of the National Union of the Homeless

By: Crystal Sanchez,

sacramento.homeless.union@gmail.com

                                                                     

                                                                November 11, 2019

The California Homeless Union/Statewide Organizing Council, an affiliate of the National Union of the Homeless, represents and is our unhoused on the streets of California.  We are in each County and City in California. We are not just for the homeless: we are the homeless.

 

While each one of you has taken the oath to protect the people in your districts and regions; we have taken the same oath for those of us on the streets, in the camps, the “shelters,” the campuses, RV’s and cars in which we have been forced to survive. We are members of the public, too.

 

As public servants, we have the duty to make ethical and moral decisions for our society. The Preamble of the United States Constitution begins with “We the People,” an initial assertion of the Constitution’s structural purposes, it is a directive for principles. But not all of We the People are included; left out are those many we call invisible, unrecognized, unseen and the unheard, those of our unhoused population.

 

Most of you have been looking for solutions to end this homeless crisis in California. What you are lacking is the Voice of the people that you are trying to make policies for. At no point are we invited to the table, your policy meetings, your panels, your town halls or any discussion about us. It is all about us without us. While you come to work and make decisions about our lives that ultimately criminalizes us, labels us, encourages the broader community to hate us, even though they are also one paycheck, one family medical crisis or one “natural” disaster away from homelessness. You categorize us, you raise money “for” us, you study us and condemn us to state-created danger. You continue to not listen to us. You don’t pay attention to voices, the hundreds of thousands of us with nowhere to go. You don’t see the inaccuracy of California’s policies and services.

California’s Caste System and the Unhoused

Inequality is increasing in California.  The separation, discrimination and the effects of poverty are far-reaching for the individuals and families who suffer from it. Due to social stratification people have different chances of success in areas like health, wealth, and education. Our closed social system makes it difficult or impossible for people to break through social stratification. Most of us fall in a caste system, where people who are born into unequal groups based on their parents’ status and remain in these groups for the rest of our lives.

Although many of us have a college education and a history of high paying job experience, we have still become a casualty of systemic racism, poverty and other forms of discrimination. Caste prejudice illustrates the continuing influence of traditional systems of social stratification. We are humans just like you but are treated like test study lab rats. We see it. From being offered gift cards for being rookie police officer training subjects to having us clean sweep areas as work project. Which by the way a trained biohazard person must do extensive training to deal with things like feces, needles mold etc. If you had a company improperly handling these things, you would be sued. This is also a state-created danger if someone got stuck by a needle you would be at fault.

Socioeconomic status such as education, income, and occupation, is used to determine someone’s social class. The problem is homelessness has become a class, but most do not fit into your categories. Also did you know many campfire victims who were renters are in our encampments? Food for thought: California is on fire. Through research in sociology, criminal justice, psychology, personal experience and integration of Outreach we are able to see how these inequalities impact everyone.

Now we know that we are not treated at or looked like as other residents of California. Even your statistical data tells you one truth and that is that most of us are from the same neighborhoods in which we were born, raised and, in some cases, worked all of our lives. We are part of the class of Californians who created the wealth, although now we are deemed as having no value. From our own neighborhoods, we have been displaced.

Some other statistical facts: California has had a drastic increase of unhoused. According to the state of California 2017 to 2019 point-in-time count (“PIT”), some counties have had as much as a 45 percent increase. We know that the PIT count is not accurate as not everybody is counted so you need to further intake that these numbers are extremely low. We are not only in a housing crisis, but we are also in a homeless crisis. Do you know that most unhoused and those facing homelessness are given vouchers? Did you know that 90 percent of those vouchers expire because:

1. The vouchers do not match the amount of available affordable housing. Our capital Sacramento is a perfect example we are 60,000 affordable housing units short of the housing and urban development guidelines.

2. We do not have the means to transport ourselves to all these appointments. Your resources do not come to us. This is the number one reason why people just can’t have their needs met.  Nowhere to go and no way to get there.

 Lacking: The Voices of the Unhoused

While we do want to believe that you have good intentions on solving the homeless crisis, you lack one huge element. You are lacking the voices of the unhoused, The Advocates, the nonprofits, the unions, and all of those who have tried to Aid in Solutions who are directly impacted. Those who are actually feet on the street.

Like other circumstances homelessness has many different facets; you cannot place it all under one category house it and call it done. I will mention what the realities are for those impacted,  however, place your position and understanding that some of these things are common necessities for all. Some realities of those that are impacted are: no public restrooms, no trash removal, no housing, no wraparound services, and no adequate facilities to house families and individuals.

People on the streets face constant sweeps every 72 hours. A sweep is when law enforcement is ordered to removed unhoused people. During this process, people lose the little survival gear that they have since most goes into a dumpster. When asked, many officers do not feel its ethically or morally right, but they must follow orders. Our unhoused are criminalized even though federal 9th Circuit decision Martin vs. Boise states that we cannot criminalize without adequate shelter, which includes their survival gear. People are victimized, raped, assaulted, stolen from, stabbed and left traumatized and much more than is ever reported. We have people dying and disappearing on the streets due to homeless policies that have been put in place. while many of you attend our once a year vigil for the passing of the unhoused and pretend to care.

Public health data shows the relationship between death and homelessness. Your policies are negatively and directly impacting and creating a state-created danger to those who are already vulnerable and half the time placed in avoidable situations. The reality is that your policies are affecting our unhoused and our communities and they are suffering. Homelessness also poses realistic issues for our communities and businesses. For the voices of the residents and businesses, your sweeps are affecting them as well. When a sweep happens it immediately breaks up camps and further displaces us to local areas neighborhoods and in front of businesses, , which then impacts our police by multiple calls from neighbors and businesses. Reminder: there is nowhere to go besides the next spot as people are told to move.

We have been placed in fear to be silent for many years. As we watch your broken policies destroy our lives and our community. We have complied with your laws, your ordinances, immoral tickets and fines that no one can afford to pay, your officers and your cruel and unusual punishment. There have been multiple California state lawsuits against these types of treatments. We have continued to move every 72 hours disposing of our dignity, our property and any hope that we would be protected by state representatives. We have taken the abuse from the businesses, the residents and our government structure. You have torn apart our encampments to protect business interests instead of the people. You need to be held accountable.

Your policies are causing harm to all things involved our environment are public health and safety, economic failures, your constituents are angry, your businesses all because you fail to look at the real cause and blame it on the homeless people and not homelessness that has been perpetuated by your policies.

All of “We the People” deserve a voice. Without us homelessness will not be solved in any way. We are asking that a representative of the Homeless Union be at the table, at your policy meetings, and on your panels so that we can perpetuate real solutions. We the unhoused people and advocates are requesting to be heard to be in those meetings. If we are continually not included, we will have to continue to raise our voices until we are heard. There is a long history of many people who were shut out of our government structure in the same manner that we are. This led to civil rights movements including those led by Martin Luther King. We all have the same common goal and that is to solve homelessness. This letter will be set out to all our Representatives in California. Attached is a list of demands put together by multiple encampments throughout California and we stand in solidarity. We appreciate your time concern and look forward to hearing from you regarding the seriousness of homelessness and its Solutions.

Immediate demands

1. Stop all No-fault evictions across California as people are being displaced due to Assembly Bill 1482 immediately...Some counties have passed the moratorium while others who have a private interest in real estate have rejected the pleas of 100s being displaced into now homelessness.

2. Reach out to the California Statewide Organizing council to make a place for the impacted at your table. Not only will this aid in solutions it will be cost-effective and save the mass resourcing being placed to research for the actual cause of our unhoused.

Statewide List of Demands

1. Single or family occupancy housing; immediately provide and a list of all city-owned, county-owned and tax-delinquent properties where vacant units exist into which the homeless may be allowed to immediately occupy as a winter emergency; No mass shelter; No compelled  “shelter.” Full Constitutional rights for all those in the shelter system including speech, right to organize, freedom of movement and association and the provision of adequate food, clothing, and humane treatment.

2. Open public restroom 24 hours a day.

3 Stop sweeps immediately AND indefinitely. We are people, not trash.

4. Stop criminalizing, ticketing, fining for uncontrollable situations due to nowhere to go… like trespassing, loitering, shopping carts, tying ropes to trees and just surviving.

5. No police harassment of those serving food or clothing.

6. Safe parking spaces.

7. Stop taking survival gear.

8. Emergency services to those who need it and to treat crimes against the homeless like all other crime.

9. Open warming stations immediately not waiting for 3 days of freezing temperatures or extreme heat.

10. Stop specializing police agencies to deal with the homeless crisis; they are not social workers. You are also forcing many to a job they do not feel ethical or morally doing.Make realistic resourcing groups that include unhoused, nonprofits and advocates that already are in the encampments aid people

11. The right to be included in any city or state conversations regarding the unhomed

12. An immediate investigation into where homeless funds have gone and why we have drastically increased in numbers.  Accountability now! We want answers.

13. Accountability for the death on the streets caused by your policies. (extreme weather conditions, sweeps).

14.  Stop taking children due to broken policies that place people in tents and cars and placing them in foster care. Instead, utilize the money to help families stay united and get into housing

15. No displacement without placement displacement = homelessness

16. Stop hospital dumping of patients to the streets

17. Safe needle disposal for those who have been made victims of the drugs pushed by the system especially on the poor and homeless. While we don’t expect you to condone needle use, one must understand it is happening. This will aid in cleaning our communities and provides public safety. Utilize programs like Harm reduction to aid in this.

18. Provide services/financial aid for people needing help updating car registration/affording insurance to be a part of safe sleep programs and help ensure the areas are actually safe.

19. Provide adequate wraparound services including mental healthcare for those with addiction.

20. Aid in help accessing job training services for those who are unemployed and wanting to/able to work as well as follow up job placement opportunities.

21. Open up all city/county/state-owned empty lots for safe sleep so people have several options. If it is absolutely necessary to move, allow a minimum of 30 days rather than morning and night in order to reduce the trauma, loss of possessions, etc. and to save money on gas and time and effort. Utilize the public, unhoused and private advocates’ housing ideas including safe ground, tiny homes, container apartments, and local ideas.

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