Lori Saldana: Ask Mayor Faulconer to Stop Downtown “Cleansing” of Homeless

by on June 20, 2016 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, Homelessness, Politics, San Diego, Sports

June 20th Is World Refugee Day and Day Mayor Authorized Sweep of Homeless Possessions

Today – June 20 – is World Refugee Day. It is also the day that Mayor Kevin Faulconer has authorized a massive “sweep” to clear tents, tarps, and other personal belongings from areas downtown.

Whether from economic or political crisis, displaced families with no safe, permanent housing face increased health risks on a daily basis. They are more likely to be victims of violent crime. Women and young people are more vulnerable to rape and sexual assault.

Forcing people away from shelter, and/or to pack up their belongings and move on the hottest day of the year, will add to physical and emotional stress that may result in more emergency responders being called to manage their care. That cost falls on all San Diegans- both in economic and humane ways.

Please join other volunteers in distributing cold water and providing some comfort to people on this hot day. We will be at the shaded area at 14th & L Street, near the Tailgate parking lot for PetCo Park.

And please call Mayor Kevin Faulconer and ask him to stop the downtown cleansing and criminalization of people in preparation for the MLB All-Star Game in a few weeks.

Contact the Mayor today: Phone: (619) 236-6330
Email: kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie June 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

Here’s Lori’s report from 6/20:

“What we accomplished today: We distributed more than 200 cups of ice water, offered shade and chairs to people with no other place to go, and refilled countless containers with ice and water that were brought to our “cooling station” today. Several dogs benefitted from our “pop up cooling station” near PetCo park’s Tailgate Parking area. We also offered basic first aid to a few people with minor injuries, and bandanas to people who wanted to cover themselves from the hot sun.

We were warned that we might be asked to move on, and a private security guard did come over as we set up, to ask what we were doing. After a simple explanation- “helping people stay healthy by offering them cold water, shade and a place to sit”- he went on his way and did not return.

We distributed donated water and food to men and women, toddlers, teens, older adults, people with mental illness, disabled people in walkers and a few in wheelchairs… the full spectrum of people in need. One person had a broken hip and could not sit down when offered a chair. Another young woman appeared to have an autism-spectrum disorder, and was being looked after by a man who used the station to sleep- undisturbed- for an hour or so.

All appreciated the ice volunteers provided. While water is readily available, it quickly warms up in the heat, so receiving a cool cup of water and ice was a luxury they are rarely afforded on the streets.

After we served them, we invited them to sit, relax and cool off. In return we received many offerings of “god bless you.”

The strangest interaction: a young woman came over and asked for “plain water.” She had to “mix her own medicine” she explained, a bit cryptically. We had a few large insulated dispensing containers filled with ice, so I offered her a cup which she tasted and then threw away. She then grabbed an unopened bottle of water, twisted the cap open, and filed the empty cup, despite my protests. “I don’t want lithium!” she announced before walking away, refusing an offer of shade or seating.

Apparently, some people believe that they are being given lithium with food and drink that is distributed by social agencies. The anti-lithium woman stayed in the shade, under a tree in the parking lot, about 100 yards away from us, until a security guard came and chased her and a few of her companions away.

What did we accomplish? We demonstrated basic acts of kindness and a offered a bit of respect for people who are not accustomed to such things. Both are apparently in short supply in San Diego this summer, as the city readies for the AllStar Game and ComicCon.”

Reply

Barrio Logan Resident June 27, 2016 at 11:34 am

Mrs. Saldana,

I applaud your well intentioned efforts. Someone needs to be on the lookout for people who can’t or won’t look out for themselves. But here is some food for thought…

Have you thought about taking your efforts to The Rock ministries and using their already established network to figure out how to best channel your efforts? They have a person specifically designated for that precise purpose. It seems that with your current mayoral campaign you may #1 do yourself a lot of good in that respect and #2 may clear yourself of being labeled amongst the “enabling feeders” who actually exacerbate the problem rather than truly address it.

The current model to assist is the Housing First model, its not perfect and I don’t agree with everything in it but it’s what we have. If you’re going to want a seat at the table to get as much info as you can on this topic it is my advice to redirect your efforts in such a way that doesn’t contradict proven ways to help and not help the homeless. You don’t have to take my word for it there is plenty of information out there on this topic. I first heard it from Ruth, the head of St Vincent de Paul (Father Joe’s) outreach. She told me the story of how one homeless person finally came in for help after refusing help for a long time. And the homeless person told her that it was Ruth who was preventing her from truly getting help because Ruth was always enabling her in ways that kept her from seeking out the real help she so desperately needed.

Your efforts are noble, I just don’t want them to go to the wrong place.

Reply

Lori Saldaña July 4, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Unfortunately, it’s a little late for these approaches.

Today, July 4th at 1 PM, SDPD announced they are searching for a suspect in the assault and murders of homeless men. One body was burned under the Clairemont Drive freeway ramp. Another was found in a park near Ocean Beach.

In recent weeks, additional attacks have taken place downtown near Horton Plaza and other areas.

It is time to end the #SDPD #ASG sweeps to prepare for the All Star Game and ComicCon.

These sweeps are not only NOT promoting safety, they are actually putting people’s lives at risk as they seek shelter by hiding and sleeping in other areas, away from lighting and people who might deter these attacks.

Reply

Lori Saldaña July 4, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Barrio Logan Resident- just to be clear: I am no longer a candidate, and I have been advocating for a change to the city’s policies on homelessness for decades.

I have done research on this issue, as an Assemblymember and a volunteer. Here’s some information relevant to the current situation re:what happens when people are “swept” from their encampments:

“When a city disrupts an encampment, the residents do not disappear along with it. The residents have to go somewhere, and thus the sweep only disrupts the encampments, not a permanent removal. Moreover, these disruptions may make encampments less safe since residents are forced to move their camps to more remote locations, further away from services and police presence.”

And this:
“Organized encampments set the bar for providing security to their residents. Often self- governing encampments create 24-hour security systems where designated residents will keep watch over the encampment at all times. Many self-organized encampments employ contracts that every resident must sign to prevent violence, alcohol, and drugs in the encampment to bar potential troublemakers for other encampment residents and surrounding neighbors. Self- organized encampments, which can be unauthorized or authorized, use these measures to make the encampments secure for their residents.”

For more details see: http://bit.ly/SEAAdvocacy

And as for why people don’t go into shelters, read: http://ecs-sf.org/_documents/NavCenter_FirstSixMonths_Assessment.pdf that explains many reasons people are not allowed into shelters, or prefer to sleep on streets, when given the chance.

So while I appreciate the work of the various organizations you mention, what we have done is supplement their activities. Many are overwhelmed, and simply not able to provide enough shelter beds to keep people off the streets each night, or offer them a cool place during the day to prevent heat-related illness and other problems.

Add the recent sweeps, and you now have people being forced away from areas that are relatively safe, and being assaulted, killed and set on fire.

If we keep doing these same things- isolating and disrupting homeless people when there are no beds for them- we can expect similar results.

I for one am not willing to accept this situation. We need a change.

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