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2/8 Press Conference on Keunang Ruling and City Council Homeless Plan Vote

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 6, 2016 by Cangress

Media Advisory – For Immediate Release          
Contact: Eric Ares 213.228.0024/erica@cangress.org |Pete White petew@cangress.org

Coalition of Over 130 Orgs and Civic Leaders Call for Permanent Housing and End to Criminalization Day Before Critical Council Vote on Homeless Plan

What: Press Conference the day before a crucial LA City Council Meeting/Vote on a Comprehensive Homeless Strategy – days after LAPD Commission Clears Officers in Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang

When: 10:30 am on Monday, February 8th, 2016

Where: Los Angeles City Hall, South Steps

Who: Representatives of a coalition of 130 organizations, service providers, and religious and civic leaders calling for an end to the criminalization of homelessness and at least $100 million per year for permanent supportive housing.

Days after the controversial LAPD Commission decision to clear officers involved in the killing of homeless Skid Row resident Charly “Africa” Keunang and the day before a critical City Council Meeting on a “comprehensive” homeless plan, organizations and leaders from across LA will be holding a press conference at City Hall to demand a truly comprehensive homeless plan – one that dedicates substantial resources to building homes and ends the failed policy of homeless criminalization.

Last November, the coalition – representing the social, professional, racial and religious diversity of over 130 organizations and civic leaders from across LA – delivered a letter to City Council calling for an end to all policies that criminalize homelessness and to make the $100 million plan announced by the Mayor and Councilmembers a long-term reality, not just rhetoric.  The letter reads:

  1. Identify long-term, sustained sources of local funding totaling at least $100 million per year and dedicate the large majority of those resources toward new permanent supportive housing units.
  2. End all “quality-of-life” and “Safer Cities” enforcement against homeless residents, including, but not limited to:
    • Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and 41.18D.
    • Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.
  1. Provide emergency public health resources to people living on the streets without major investment in infrastructure, including mobile restrooms and showers, mobile health and mental health services, and voluntary storage facilities.

Since then, the City Council has engaged in a process of creating a long-term plan, but have yet to substantively address the ongoing trend of citing and arresting of homeless residents across LA. Moreover, the past week the police commission ruled the shooting of Skid Row resident Charly “Africa” Keunang “in policy.” The group maintains that in order to make a homeless plan truly “comprehensive,” the City should include a component that ends criminalization – similar to the LA County Board of Supervisors draft plan, which contains a policy recommendation that calls for an end to policies that make it illegal to be homeless.

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Skid Row Resident on Impacts of Criminalization

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2016 by Cangress
A Skid Row Resident asked us to share her story about what criminalization is really about and how it punishes people for being poor and without a home.
 
Shelly also brings up an important point about the myth of homeless people being “service resistant.” If it’s LAPD offering an ultimatum – shelter or jail, it is not outreach or help, it’s coercion masked as options.
 
This is exactly the kind of situation that erodes residents’ trust in government and service providers. And this is exactly why any homeless plan MUST include an end to the failed policy of managing street homelessness with the enforcement of quality-of-life crimes.
 
This sort of approach is NOT about public safety – it is about punishing homeless people for the failed housing and social safety net policies and mismanaged budget priorities of elected officials.
 
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Herb J. Wesson, Jr., Jose Huizar, Mike Bonin , Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Gil Cedillo, Curren D. Price, Jr. and other City Councilmembers can do something about this – TODAY. But will they muster up the political will and courage to do so?
 
#housekeysNOThandcuffs

Community Members Outraged as LAPD Commission Finds Officers Shooting and Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang “in Policy”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3, 2016 by Cangress

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Press Release | For Immediate Release
February 2, 2016
Pete White, LA CAN 213-434-1594 | Hamid Khan, STOP LAPD Spying at 562-230-4578

Community Members Outraged as LAPD Commission Finds Officers Shooting and Killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang “in Policy”

Community members from Black Lives Matter-LA, Los Angeles Community Action Network and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and across LA are gathered at LAPD Headquarters vocalizing their outrage at the LAPD Police Commission finding that officers who shot and killed Charly “Africa” Keunang last March acted “in policy.” Keunang, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, was shot and killed by LAPD officers on March 1 in the Downtown LA neighborhood of Skid Row. The incident drew international attention after cell phone videos of the killing were viewed by millions.

Residents were surprised at today’s report back after various groups attempted for months to get information and updates on the investigation of the fatal shooting. The “closed session” hearing was actually kept under wraps until community members directly questioned Commission President Johnson about its presence on today’s agenda. He confirmed that it was in fact one of the topics being discussed.

“Africa’s” death occurred as communities in LA and across the country continue to grapple with the shootings of unarmed Black men. The attempts to paint him as a career criminal in pursuit of justifying his killing fell on deaf ears largely as the video spoke for itself. Additionally, in Skid Row (a 50 square block area) use-of-force and shootings of unarmed people far outpace any other area of Los Angeles. Keunang’s killing was also just one of a string of incidents last year involving LAPD fatally shooting homeless residents.

In August, the family of Keunang, represented by Hadsell, Stormer & Renick, filed a lawsuit against the City of LA for the wrongful death of the man known in Skid Row as “Africa.” However, residents and groups at the commission today have vowed to continue fighting for Justice for Keunang, which they connect to the broad trend of state sanctioned fatal violence used against primarily low-income, Black and Brown communities.
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Changes in Leadership and Becky’s Transition

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2015 by Cangress

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Since 1999 the Los Angeles Community Action Network has been a leading voice and force in the fight against inequality, civil rights violations, and housing and food insecurity in Downtown Los Angeles, South LA, and beyond. What began as a committee of 25 Skid Row residents coming together to address problems related to the emerging gentrification of Downtown LA has grown into an internationally recognized organization that develops leadership amongst extremely low-income and homeless communities to create concrete, positive changes rooted in social justice and placing the voices of those experiencing poverty and oppression at the forefront of decision making processes.

Ever proud of the leadership we have developed and committed to further building upon our model of shared leadership and responsibility, we announce that Becky Dennison will be transitioning out of her role as Co-Director at the end of 2015.  Among the many opportunities that organizational change creates, this opens up exciting new roles for other LA CAN leaders as well as an opportunity for Becky to continue her fight for justice and human rights through new endeavors and the LA CAN Board of Directors, which she will join in January.

A message from Becky:
“For the past 15 years, it has been my absolute honor and privilege to work alongside teams of the most talented and committed people I have ever met.  From the beginning, LA CAN focused on building a broad base of leaders who work collectively to create change that promotes justice and equity by challenging institutions that perpetuate exclusion, displacement, and poverty.  We have always operated from the belief that building transformational power requires the people most impacted to have meaningful leadership and that shared power and leadership creates more of it.

This is how we grew from three people sharing a cubicle to breaking ground this year on our permanent home, the LA CAN Justice & Wellness Center, and this is how our work will continue.  I am entering this transition feeling totally energized and ready to fight for social justice and I’ve felt like that every day I’ve been here – which makes me so lucky to have been a part of building LA CAN and our communities.  I thank all of you who have contributed to LA CAN’s numerous achievements and I look forward to working with you in the future as we continue to organize and fight for a better community, society, and world.”

When we started LA CAN, it was paramount that we build an organization that reflected our vision of inclusion, collective power, and leadership development among those most often excluded or overlooked. With the immeasurable contributions and the unrelenting commitment of Becky, we were able to do just that – create an institution that embodies the will and spirit of our communities.  So while we of course announce Becky’s transition with some feelings of sadness and loss, we are more confident than ever that our leadership team will continue to carry on the critical work she helped make possible into 2016 and beyond.

In struggle and power,
Pete White, Executive Director
Alan Green, Board Chair

November/December 2015 Community Connection NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2015 by Cangress

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Click HERE to read the November/December 2015 Community Connection

The Answer to the Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles is Simple: House Keys, Not Handcuffs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2015 by Cangress

State of Emergency Meme

City Leaders’ Proposal Lacks Resources for More Housing and Lacks Specifics about Changing the Policies of Criminalization

This morning members of the LA City Council and Mayor Garcetti announced a “State of Emergency” on homelessness and promised an investment of $100 million toward services and housing.  While this announcement is a step in the right direction, it is unacceptable that only $13 million in one-time funds were actually identified with no real plan for the additional $87 million or other long-term investments.  Additionally, increases in financial resources towards this crisis will only work if the City abandons what has been its primary approach toward homelessness over the past decade: criminalizing the lives of homeless residents.

Let’s be clear – the City has invested millions upon millions of dollars toward homelessness in recent years. But far too much of that money has gone to LAPD to enforce unjust and often illegal laws that simply punish people for being poor and that make it even more difficult to get out of homelessness. Just last year LAPD spent $87 million of the $100 million that went toward homelessness out of the City’s general fund to arrest homeless residents.  Citations, harassment, displacement, arrest, jailing – this is what that money is spent on, when there is only $10 million in general fund money in the City’s affordable housing trust fund. Is it any wonder then why homelessness is up 12% since 2013?

Lack of investment in housing production, poverty wages, an ever shrinking social safety net, and the most expensive rents in the country drive many of the 13,000 people A MONTH who are pushed into homelessness in LA County. But, make no mistake about it, it is the failed policy of criminalization through LAPD enforcement that prevents people from rising out of homelessness when the limited opportunities arise.

If the City Council and the Mayor are serious about ending homelessness, their announcements would include new and substantial sources of long-term funding combined with a call to end to laws, policies, and approaches that emphasize LAPD enforcement over services and housing.  Homeless outreach workers cannot be successful without actual housing units to connect people to, and they can’t connect with someone who is in jail for ticket given to them for sitting on the sidewalk.  What good is a meeting with a housing specialist if homeless person’s possessions are taken and potentially discarded during that appointment?  What good are more outreach workers without more housing?  We have a lot more questions than answers right now.

In short: You can’t use house keys when you are wearing handcuffs. We finally hear the City Council and Mayor talking about the crisis – now will they actually ensure house keys and call for an end to the handcuffs?

The August/September 2015 Community Connection in NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2015 by Cangress

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Click HERE to read the August/September 2015 Community Connection.