The Issues We Deal With
Civil Rights for homeless people!!! We demand:
Restore Public Space DowntownWith the advent of the redeveloped Pacific Mall, each passing year sees greater privatization of the public sidewalk space. Entire sections of sidewalk and kiosks are cordoned off for the exclusive leased use of restaurants. Bench space is slowly eroded due to merchant complaints. Planters are removed or made unusable. City codes actually go so far as giving merchants veto power over certain activities in front of their establishments. A "move along" code makes sure you can't stay in one public place for more than an hour. Entire blocks of sidewalk (Cathcart to Locust) cannot be used in practice for many free speech purposes because they are less than or close to the new fourteen foot (sitting, panhandling) and ten foot exclusion zones (non-commercial display).
End Police RepressionResponding to merchant and Council demands, SCPD and the Downtown "Hosts" have been energetically enforcing the new Downtown Ordinances. Citations are up about 100% from 2001, according to Dan White of the Sentinel. There are signs of selective enforcement - homeless or poor will be cited for something while tourists a few feet away doing the same thing will be ignored. The net effect of this blizzard of citations has been an unbearable burden to those who can least afford it. Police Chief Belcher has said in briefings that these efforts are "appreciated" and in an interview that "no one has gotten a citation who didn't deserve it." We don't think so! HUFF calls for an end to the economic and racial cleansing of Pacific Avenue.
Legalize Sleep!!! End The Sleeping/Blanket BanThis is a cruel and inhuman law designed to drive homeless people out of our city. A homeless mother and child cannot cover up with a blanket between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. without fear of arrest, no matter how cold and wet it gets.
End The Camping BanBetween 1500 and 2000 residents of this city are forced to camp in parks and greenbelt areas, constantly subject to harassment, arrest and seizure of possessions by police, physical assault by vigilantes, and simple criminal mischief.
Vehicularly housed residents are subject to similar harassment, no matter how responsibly they conduct themselves. They never know when their vehicle will be ticketed, towed, or they'll wake up at 3 a.m. to the sound of police pounding at their door, demanding to know if they're inside.
Safe and Legal CampsitesCreating a safe and legal place for vehicularly housed and folk outdoors will reduce the impact on local neighborhoods from people forced to park and sleep wherever they can.