Archive for Homeless State of Emergency

Over 120 Organizations and Civic Leaders Respond to Homeless “State of Emergency” Announcement: Stop the Criminalization and Create Real, Permanent Solutions

Posted in civil rights with tags , , , on October 14, 2015 by Cangress

Logos for Sign Ons

Open letter to Mayor Garcetti and LA City Council Regarding the Homeless “State of Emergency” Declaration

We write you in response to the recent declaration of a homeless “state of emergency” in Los Angeles and an announcement of a $100 million investment towards homeless services and housing. While we welcome the call for more resources for solutions to homelessness, this must translate into substantial, long-term sources of funding and, equally important, an end to the failed policy of criminalizing the lives of homeless residents through laws and enforcement that punish people for being poor and only make it more difficult for someone to get out of homelessness.

The homeless “state of emergency” did not create itself. The City has invested hundreds of millions dollars to address homelessness in the past several years, but the large majority of that money has gone to the Los Angeles Police Department to cite, arrest and otherwise police people who need resources, not fines and jail time. Just last year, according to Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, $87 million of the $100 million that went toward addressing homelessness out of the City’s general fund was spent on LAPD arrests of homeless people. This is not only an inhumane strategy, it is a wasteful and ineffective one as well. Many of you now seem to agree, which we welcome. Mayor Garcetti has called criminalization efforts “pennywise pound foolish.” We were encouraged that Councilmember Huizar also joined us in saying that “this approach to homelessness has failed” and that “we can’t ignore the problem, and we can’t arrest our way out of it.”

Only $13 million in one-time funds have been identified with no real plan of how you all will get the additional $87 million or ensure long-term investments to really impact the homeless crisis. This must happen immediately if your constituents are to believe this announcement is a real commitment to change. 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. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now requiring that localities have a proactive plan to prevent the criminalization of homelessness or federal funds will be at risk. The time is now. The City can and must redirect millions of dollars towards housing and services and create an environment to ensure homeless residents are not criminalized or penalized for life-sustaining activities.

As Councilmember Bonin recently stated, the City needs to “get out of this cycle we’ve been in of trying to enforce against people who have no alternative.” To this end, in order to adequately address the homeless “state of emergency” with a plan for long-term, dedicated resources, we call on you to do the following:

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:

a. Evaluating and repealing punitive laws such as LA Municipal Code 56.11, 63.44 B and I, and 41.18D.
b. Redirecting the $87 million spent on arresting homeless people, as identified in the recent CAO report, toward permanent solutions to homelessness.

3. 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.

At the announcement, City Council President Wesson declared, “Today, we step away from the insanity of doing the same thing and hoping for different results, and instead chart our way to ending homelessness.” Announcing a goal of $100 million is a start. Words that acknowledge the failed policy of criminalization are promising. But if the City is to truly achieve different results, we need your leadership to ensure $100 million per year is identified and spent on housing and public health solutions and finally step away from policing as a strategy to address homelessness. We have the solutions and the City has the financial resources, we now need sustained political action.

Signed,

Alliance of White Anti-Racist Everywhere – Los Angeles
AME Church Ministerial Alliance of Southern California
Anti-Racist Action LA
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Black/Jewish Alliance
Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
California Partnership
Center for Media Justice
Church Without Walls
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
Congregation Kol Ami
Courage Campaign
Dignity and Power Now
Drug Policy Alliance
DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving
East LA Community Corporation
Esperanza Community Housing
First To Serve, Inc.
Global Women’s Strike
Housing Works
Hunger Action LA
Inquilinos Unidos
Inner City Law Center
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Justice Not Jails
Labor/Community Strategy Center
Legal Advocacy Project
Living Word Community Church
Los Angeles Anti-Eviction Campaign
Los Angeles Catholic Worker/Hippie Kitchen
Los Angeles Black Worker Center
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective
Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches
Los Angeles Poverty Department
Los Angeles Tenants Union / Sindicato de Inquilinos de Los
Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
A New Way of Life
Occupy Venice
People Organizing for Westside Renewal (POWER)
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA)
Progressive Christians Uniting
Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission
Revolutionary Autonomous Communities Los Angeles
Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Skid Row Housing Trust
South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles
Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
St. Mary’s Center
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
Thai Community Development Center
Topanga Peace Alliance
Trust South LA
Union de Vecinos
United Homeless Healthcare Partners
Venice Community Housing Corporation
Venice Justice Committee
Voice of My People Foundation
Wesley Health Centers & JWCH Institute
Western Center on Law and Poverty
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (W.O.R.K.S.)
Youth Justice Coalition

Individuals (Organizational Affiliation for Identification Purposes Only)

Aminah Abdul-Jabbaar, Filmmaker and Professor, CSULA
Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor, CSULA & Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles
Professor Jody Armour, Roy Crocker Professor of Law, USC
Akilah Bakeer, Social Worker
Larry Aubry, Journalist, ABSA, BCCLA
Gary Blasi, Attorney at Law,Professor of Law Emeritus, UCLA
Margo Bouchet, Attorney at Law
Jordan T. Camp, Postdoctoral Fellow Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America (CSREA)
Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Journalist
Chuck D, Public Enemy
Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate and co-founder Hip Hop National Political Convention
Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder Black Lives Matter
Michael Datcher, Author and Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Ralph D. Fertig , ACSW Federal Admin. Judge (Ret.) Professor, USC School of Social Work
Regina Freer, Professor, Occidental College
Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
Jonathan Gomez, Artist
Nana Gyamfi, Attorney at Law
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Film and Television Director
Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock, Professor, US
Phyllis Jackson, PhD, Associate Professor, Pomona College
Dr. Angela James, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Gaye Theresa Johnson, Associate Professor, UCLA
Erin Aubry Kaplan, Journalist
Rev. Peter Laarman, Coordinator, Justice Not Jails
Dr. Libby Lewis, Adjunct Professor, UCLA
Professor George Lipsitz, Professor, UCSB
Lynn Martinez, Attorney at Law
Diane Middleton, Diane Middleton Foundation
Dena Montague, Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSB
Marilyn Montenegro, PhD., Coordinator NASW Women’s Council Prison Project
Maegan Ortiz, IDEPSCA
Jose M. Paez, Professor, CSUN
Yasser Arafat Payne, Ph.D.Associate Professor, University of Delaware
Kevin Powell, Author and Journalist
Margaret Prescod, Global Women’s Strike
Vivian Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor, CSUDH
John Raphling, Attorney at Law
Dr. Anthony Ratcliff, Professor, CSULA
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
Dr. Boris Ricks, Professor, CSUN
Cynthia Ruffin, Downtown Women’s Action Coalition/Liberation Artist/Revolutionary Angel
Rev. Dr. Roslyn Satchel, Minister, Attorney and Community Activist
Aqeela Sherrills, Organizer and Peace Activist, Watts, CA
Mark Simon, Rodney Drive Tenants Association
Carol Sobel, Civil Rights Attorney
Dan Stormer, Attorney at Law
Alan Sutton, The Louise Sutton Kindness for All Foundation
Dave Wagner, Professor, University of Southern Maine
John Walton Senterfitt, PhD, RN Epidemiologist and Ethicist, L. A. County Dept. of Public Health
Goetz Wolff , Immediate Past President, UC-AFT 1990