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Long-Time Santa Cruz Tenant and Homeless Activist Explains the City Hall Sleep-Out
Donna Deiss lives in her RV with her partner Shane. She co-founded the Tenants Rights Union of Santa Cruz when she had housing and helped dozens of people fight unjust evictions. During the week-long Sleep-Out at City Hall she and Shane provided bathroom facilities when the City refused to open its bathrooms at night as well as coffee in the morning. She is currently organizing folks living in their vehicles. The Sentinel printd this letter on Tuesday, August 21st. Contact her at 831-325-5684.
Letter to the Editor
Santa Cruz Sentinel Aug 21 2007
Sleeping ban illegal
As a core member of the sleeping ban ordinance protest, I would like to clarify our goal:
1. We are not asking for money or resources, only the right to sleep between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m., which are normal sleeping hours for all humans.
2. The sleeping ban causes mental, physical and emotional harm to those who try to stay awake all night to avoid a $95 sleeping/camping ticket; are criminalized by being unable to pay a sleeping/camping ban ticket and begin "hiding out" in the woods or bushes; existing mental and physical problems are greatly compounded by those living outdoors or in an unsafe place.
3. Of course, other laws regarding littering, public drinking and disruptive noise should continue to be enforced.
4. Those living in vehicles are marginalized yet often independent; homeless only due to the lack of affordable housing for many years.
In conclusion, the sleeping ban in unconstitutional according to the 9th Circuit Court decision, Jones v. Los Angeles. It violates the basic principles of democracy and freedom.