Tonight’s forum on the homeless and homelessness in Ocean Beach is the third in a series of community events organized by an array of local churches. It will be at 7pm in the fellowship hall at Point Loma United Methodist Church, 1984 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. There will be reports from focus areas addressed by the first two forums, to include public facilities, community, government, and community activities.
Most OBcians are aware of the heated controversies involving the homeless that have swirled around the village since last Spring. There were complaints from merchants and residents about a “new breed” of homeless who were thought to be overly-aggressive in their panhandling. There was the underground hate campaign unleashed on homeless people, signified by several leaflets calling for their removal from a once-tolerant community. There was the sticker wars that led to a campaign to boycott the Black headshop for selling the ‘don’t feed our bums’ logos on stickers, hats, and shirts, and the counter sticker that pledged ‘to end homelessness.’
The context of all this was a severe national and regional economic downturn – the worst since the Great Depression – and subsequent reports of increases in the homeless on the streets, and reports that one-quarter of homeless were veterans.
Then, in the vacuum of nothing being done by government, community organizations, or service groups, a coalition of local churches stepped in to attempt to undercut the vitriol and potential for violence, and to bring the community together in a healing process. There was the first forum on July 6th – which drew 250 people, a follow-up one on August 24th, and there was a community alley clean-up.
All these efforts appeared to bring caring people together, but did not at the same time rope in those from the neighborhood who had been the most incensed about the perceived abuses by homeless. It did bring together those who felt incensed about the fact that there were so many homeless on our streets and who believed that attempts to blame some of them fell on all of them.
Tonight’s forum reports will be given by the task forces charged with :
- PUBLIC FACILITIES – Bathrooms, Showers,
- COMMUNITY – Center, Outreach, Centralization, Emergency Shelter, Services, Garden,
- GOVERNMENT – Involvement in OBTC, OBMA, City Services (Police, Fire & Lifeguard), Cohesive voice of OB at City Council, and
- ACTIVITIES – Community Clean-ups, Festivals, Education, Family Outreach, Cross-generational.
They will update us on what is needed to implement the tasks they have decided to undertake. This is a good place for you to volunteer your time and energy to better our community on a grassroots level. United for a better OB!