Archive for homelessness in los angeless

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?

Human Rights Victory Today – A Win against City of LA’s Continued Efforts to Criminalize Homelessness instead of Ending It

Posted in civil rights, Homeless Bill of Rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2014 by Cangress

Today, the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals overturned a prior lower court decision and ruled that LA Municipal Code Section 85.02 (which prohibits living/sleeping in a vehicle) is an unconstitutionally vague statute and opens the door to discriminatory enforcement against the homeless and the poor.  The Court’s decision states, “Plaintiffs argue that Section 85.02 is unconstitutionally vague on its face because it provides insufficient notice of the conduct it penalizes and promotes arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.  We agree.”

This important case was litigated by Civil Rights Attorney Carol Sobel, with co-counsel by Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and homeless individuals who were impacted by Section 85.02 enforcement by LAPD.  Several community-based organizations fighting against criminalization and forced displacement in Venice and across the City supported this case as well.  This fight is crucial to upholding the human rights of everyone, of ensuring homeless and poor people have full and equal access to public spaces, and – for those that do have vehicles but have no current access to housing – ensures at least some shelter and safety protections over sleeping on the streets.

California and Los Angeles should enact Homeless Bills of Rights to protect the civil rights of homeless residents, seriously invest in housing solutions, and stop expensive and inhumane criminalization efforts.  Segregation and criminalization of public space cannot continue and this victory is one step toward that.  To get involved in local and statewide campaigns, contact Eric or Dogon at LA CAN, and/or attend the next LA-region Homeless Bill of Rights meeting on Thursday, June 26th at 6:00 PM at LA CAN (838 E. 6th Street, LA 90021).

The full court decision can be read here:  9th circuit DECISION June 2014

Victory for Homeless People and Those Who Believe in Civil Rights for ALL — Two Court Decisions Deny City’s Ongoing Attempts to Seize Property

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2013 by Cangress

Last Monday, June 17, US District Judge Gutierrez denied the City of LA’s application to modify the preliminary injunction he issued in June 2011.  Among many findings in his ruling, the denial stated,

“However, as the City has not shown a change in law or fact that would warrant modifying the language of the injunction, the Court is not persuaded that the alternate proposed modification is appropriate. Further, Defendant has submitted no evidence of a problem with individuals failing to move their property during a noticed cleaning operation.”

The LAPD and the City Attorney, with loud and public urging by the business community, have inexplicably been fighting this injunction since it was issued – failing at every level.  This Monday, June 24, the Supreme Court denied hearing their appeal, allowing the injunction to stand.  We are pleased to see the City’s unjust efforts continue to be denied by the courts.

LA CAN hopes the City, and especially our new City Attorney, will stop these wasteful and mean-spirited attempts to assert that homeless people simply don’t have the same constitutional rights as those who are housed.  Instead of fighting injunctions protecting people’s most basic rights, the City should focus on housing and public health solutions that have been proven effective.

LA CAN members will continue their organizing efforts to promote the human right to housing while also protecting homeless people’s rights until there is housing for all.  We will also work to end the Safer Cities Initiative, which criminalizes homelessness and poverty in Skid Row and was the original source of the illegal property destruction.

Read the LA Times coverage here:,0,7106702.story

On Homeless Memorial Day, LA CAN Releases Survey Data on the Devastating Impacts of Safer Cities Policing in Skid Row

Posted in anti-violence, civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by Cangress

On Tuesday, December 21st, the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) held a press conference to release a human rights assessment of Skid Row’s Safer Cities Initiative, an intensive policing effort launched by Mayor Villaraigosa that has been sustained for more than four years.  Residents also delivered the report to the Police Commission and called for the end of Safer Cities.

The Human Rights Assessment is available here:

Human Rights Assessment-Skid Row’s Safer Cities Initiative 2010

The report is based on a survey of more than 200 poor and homeless residents of downtown Los Angeles and shows that:

  • More than half of the respondents (53.6%), both homeless and housed, had been arrested in just the past year.  This compares to an adult arrest rate in the State of California of 4.9 percent.
  • As a result of arrest, 51.5% lost their housing, 42.4% lost access to social services, and 16.4% lost employment.
  • Although LAPD touts improvements in biased policing (formerly racial profiling), 75 percent reported being profiled by police in the past year due to their race, economic status, or residence in the Skid Row community.  Almost 80 percent of respondents reported they do not feel safe from police violence and police harassment.
  • The report also includes previously unpublished data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2009 Homeless Count that shows that the most prevalent form of victimization reported by those surveyed was police harassment (37%), exceeding assault (24%) and robbery (18%).


Protesting racist Safer Cities policing in Skid Row and it’s expansion to Venice

Posted in civic participation, civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by Cangress

As Councilmember Bill Rosenthal calls for an SCI expansion to invade Venice Beach, residents from downtown and Venice align forces to stop all SCI policing.

The Safer Cities Initiative, still very much active in Skid Row, recently passed  its 4th Anniversary with still no intervention to stop it from any elected officials. In years past there were huge press conferences in select venues with every local political opportunist fighting for their minute on the microphone. This, of course, was accompanied by degrading media coverage that portrayed poor, mostly Black, residents as animals that were unfit to live, and, who deserved exactly the type of treatment they were getting. And this was always placed in juxtaposition to a new and emerging, White, downtown-playground waiting for those who could pay to play.

From day-one most residents decried the racist policing being thrust upon them in violent and unforgiving ways. The oppressive nature of SCI made some people run and hide for cover but few, if any, were able to be untouched by its wide net. At the same time many residents believed the only way to stop SCI was to fight it head-on, organize resistance, and take public action to add allies in opposition to this “Jim Crow” throwback policing.

This year there was no SCI luncheon held in the Biltmore Hotel; no regal press briefing held by the Mayor, Chief of Police, Central City Association, or the throngs of council people masquerading as “progressive.” There was, however, still the growing group of residents and supporters demanding an end to SCI in downtown, and fighting to stop it before it reaches Venice.

This year’s action entitled, “The Triple Block Bonanza,” used street theater, community education, and direct action to highlight the realities faced by those unfortunate enough to have to deal with SCI.  In the morning, there was a lively march to police headquarters, where we occupied their space as they have been occupying ours.  We also delivered over 3,500 signatures from downtown residents and businesses who oppose SCI.  In the afternoon, we reclaimed space on Towne Street, where police have recently been targeting free food providers to intimidate them out of the area.  The City’s goals remain clear – homeless and poor people should be criminalized until they leave downtown and, now, the people who provide basic necessities to the community should leave too.  But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere!


41.18d skit to illuminate how targeted and unfair enforcement happens in the community



Heading to the LAPD Administration Building..."we ain't scared!"



Food Not Bombs serves up a healthy and delicious plate of brown rice, vegetables, and beans on Towne Street



Hippie Kitchen representing as always.


…And Justice for All Awards

Posted in civil rights, housing victories, human & civil rights, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by Cangress

On October 2, 2010 LA CAN hosted its 1st Annual ..And Justice for All Awards in San Pedro, CA. The award celebration was held at the home of longtime LA CAN supporter Diane Middleton and proved to be the perfect venue. Breathtaking views of the ocean served as the perfect backdrop and the weather, which earlier in the day had threatened rain,  was sunny and bright.

Friends, family members, and other LA CAN supporters gathered to pay homage to the inaugural awards recipients. Recipients were honored for their work and commitment to LA CAN’s human rights projects.  Collectively they represented 25 years of work to bring equity, dignity & respect, and justice for residents in Downtown and South Los Angeles.

The Housing Awards were presented to:

  1. Barbara Schultz, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 8-year LA CAN Commitment
  2. Steve Diaz, Community Organizer, 7-year LA CAN Commitment

Steve and Barbara accept their awards

The Civil Rights  Awards were presented to:

  1. Jim Evans, Partner, Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., 4-year LA CAN Commitment
  2. General Dogon, Community Organizer, 5-year LA CAN Commitment

Jim Evans and General Dogon accept their awards from Pete White

Los Angeles Right to Housing Collective Fight for Tenant Rights

Posted in DWAC & Women's Issues, education, grassroots policy, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing, Uncategorized, united nations, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by Cangress

City Council and LAPD respond to call for RENT FREEZE by attacking tenants and arresting three residents

City Council made tenants wait over five hours before declining to vote on a moratorium against rent increases. Instead, Council President Eric Garcetti introduced a motion to send the issue back to committee.  The motion passed 10-5, essentially ensuring rents will go up for most tenants on July 1st.   The only votes in favor of tenant rights were Councilmembers Alarcon, Hahn, Huizar, Krekorian and Wesson.

When tenants voiced their anger, frustration and disappointment by chanting loudly in Council Chambers, Acting President Dennis Zine ordered Los Angeles Police Department to remove tenants from council.  About 30 LAPD officers began roughly forcing tenants out of Council chambers. One Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) member was forced to the ground against a wall by several officers, his tee shirt ripped almost in two, and another was hog tied after being roughly pulled to the ground by his neck. Another disabled female LA CAN member was arrested solely for shouting at Council that this was all Council’s fault.  More than five hours later, all are still being detained and LAPD claim they are being “processed.”

City Council spent the first two and a half hours of the meeting giving out ceremonial awards, making hundreds of people who had come to Council wait. Although the chambers were 90% filled with people interested in the moratorium, on either side of the issue, Council heard several other items before finally hearing the item.  The measure would have suspended an automatic 3% rent increase for four months, with an exemption for “mom and pop” landlords.

Tenants asked for this relief because the rent increase, usually based on the Consumer Price Index, was negative 0.6 last year and so they did not believe landlords should be entitled to an increase. In the 25 years since the 3% “floor” was enacted, the CPI has been under 3% eleven times, thus giving landlords a rent increase regardless of inflation.  As low-income people are facing cuts in wages and benefits, unemployment, hikes in bus fares and DWP costs, and more, a rent increase may just be the final push, forcing families into the streets.

Raw video is available at:   LAPD attacks residents who are simply voicing their opposition to cowardly vote.


Demand a One-Year Rent Freeze

Posted in food access, grassroots policy, health access, housing victories, legal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by Cangress



Councilmember Alarcon has introduced a motion for a one-year moratorium on any rent increases in rent-stabilized buildings in Los Angeles.  This moratorium needs to move forward VERY quickly or it could get lost in the city’s budget process.  Landlords are already calling Councilmembers and weighing in against it – not surprisingly.

But….there are more tenants and tenant supporters than there are landlords – so they need to hear from us now! Please make your own calls and ask colleagues, members, neighbors and others to make calls between today and Friday, April 30th. Be sure to specifically tell the Councilmembers if you live or work in their district – but call them any or all as an LA resident.

We are asking for at least 2 calls from each person in the next week:

FIRST and most urgent: Call Councilmember Herb Wesson who is Chair of the Housing and Community Economic Development Committee (HCED).  Strongly urge him to schedule the moratorium proposed by Councilman Alarcon to freeze rent increases for rent controlled units from July 2010 – June 2011. We want him to schedule it on the HCED agenda on or before May 5th.  We also need to urge his support for the final policy.  The motion was introduced in City Council and is now waiting to be heard in his committee.  If Wesson does not put it on the agenda, it can’t be drafted.

District 10, Herb Wesson, 213-473-7010

Sample script if needed – My name is___________  and I am with (organization name) and  a resident of the City of Los Angeles (tell him specifically if you also live in his district).  I am calling to ask that Councilmember Wesson put the moratorium preventing rent increases on the agenda for the next HCED meeting.  I want him to know this issue has to be on the agenda by May 5th or it won’t be enacted in time to prevent rent increases this year.  I also would like to know if Councilman Wesson plans to vote in favor of the moratorium (and if he does not support it, why not?)

SECONDLY Please call the councilmember that represents your neighborhood and/or the area your organization works in.  Below are organizations who already volunteered to make calls in specific council districts – we need to cover as many councilmembers as possible, so take on as many districts as makes sense.  Email me to update me on which district(s) you can cover.   OUR GOAL IS THAT EACH COUNCILMEMBER RECEIVE AT LEAST 500 CALLS OVER THE NEXT WEEK.  We are urging each of these councilmembers to support the moratorium because renters simply can’t take any more increases during these tough economic times.

Sample script if needed – My name is___________ and I am with (organization name) and I am a resident of the district.  I am calling to ask that Councilmember_________ vote in favor of the moratorium on rent increases for rent controlled units.  The moratorium is only for one year. We are ONLY seeking a temporary break on our annual rent increases.  Tenants are faced with reduction in wages and increases in utilities and transportation costs.  These savings will help us cover other basic necessities to survive.  Can we count on the Councilmember’s support?

For these councilmembers, make calls and urge them to support the moratorium (commitments to date listed):

District 1, Ed Reyes, (213)-473-7001 – Comunidad Presente, Coalition LA, Inquilinos Unidos, Healthy Homes Collaborative

District 2, Paul Krekorian, (213)-473-7002 – we need organizations here who have members!

District 4, Tom LaBonge, (213)-473-7004 – CES, KIWA

District 5, Paul Koretz, (213)-473-7005  We need organizations here!

District 6, Tony Cardenas, 213-473-7006  We need organizations here!

District 9, Jan Perry, 213-473-7009  LACAN, Comunidad Presente, SAJE, Esperanza

District 11, Bill Rosendahl, 213-473-7011  POWER

District 13, Eric Garcetti, 213-473-7013  CES, LACAN, Healthy Homes Collaborative

District 14, Jose Huizar, 213-473-7014  Union de Vecinos, LA CAN

District 15, Janice Hahn, 213-473-7015  POWER

LASTLY – don’t forget to call Councilmember Alarcon and thank him for introducing the motion and tell him you support it!

District 7, Richard Alarcon, 213-473-7007

Stay tuned for more information – a LOT more action will be needed to achieve this crucial victory.  You may see numerous emails on this issue as several coalitions and organizations are actively involved – don’t delete them!  We need everyone engaged.

Long Awaited “Shame of the City” Report Released

Posted in civil rights, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, food access, grassroots policy, health access, housing victories, human & civil rights, legal, Uncategorized, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by Cangress

Enhancing Community Health by Improving Housing and Health Practices,
Aligning Government Priorities and Increasing the Power of Tenants

slum_paper_v10. 4.14.10

[please click on the link above to read report]

United Nations Releases Report on Adequate Housing

Posted in anti-violence, civic participation, civil rights, education, grassroots policy, housing victories, human & civil rights, legal, organizing, united nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Cangress

Special Rapporteur Report on U S Mission [click link to view report]

On February 12, 2010 the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing released the findings of the first official United States mission focused on housing.  This long awaited report brings the housing issues faced by many poor Americans to the international scene and breaths new life into the struggles to fix those problems.

Grassroots organizations from across the country came together to ensure that the civil society portion of the mission accurately depicted local realities. Local City-Chairs, convened by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative [NESRI], were responsible for bringing together grassroots housing organizations, housing experts, lawyers fighting for housing rights, and most importantly impacted residents to illustrate  the depths of the problem. Originally brought together by the mission at hand the groups have since organized themselves into a more permanent organization. There are multiple joint activities in the works as well as a push to correct national policies that are the harbingers of local harm.

Local City Co-Chairs:

New York, NY – Rob Robinson, Picture the Homeless

Wilkes Barre, PA – Frank Sindaco, Northeast Pennsylvania Organizing Center

Chicago, IL –   JR Fleming, Coalition to Protect Public Housing

New Orleans, LA – Sam Jackson, Mayday New Orleans

Pine Ridge, SD – Bill Means, Oglala Tribal Community

Los Angeles, CA – Becky Dennison, Los Angeles Community Action Network

Washington, DC – Debra Frazier, Family and Friends of Arthur Capers and Carrollsburg and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Stay tuned because there is truly more to come!