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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Robbery Follows Exclusion from the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center for Disabled Woman
by Robert Norse
Sunday Aug 26th, 2012 9:36 PM
Andrea Morgan, a disabled 5'1" homeless woman, has been forced to sleep outside--something that is illegal for all homeless people in Santa Cruz. Excluded from the Homeless (Lack of ) Services Center [HLOSC] property programs, she called me this morning reporting she was robbed last night while she slept. Taken from her were her coat, purse, medications, ID, and other essentials. I interviewed her subsequently on my Free Radio show.
Andrea Morgan's concerns about discrimination and abuse at the HLOSC is extensively described by advocate John Colby in previous posts of e-mails he sent to the HLOSC -- "Homeless Services Center puts anemic woman on the streets where she can be raped or robbed" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/02/18718703.php

She described the nighttime theft as she slept alone next to hiway 9 in some detail on the air at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120826.mp3 (about 2 hours into the audio file).

John Colby, who authored the above story, and has kept in regular contact with Morgan and tried to advocate for her disability rights, seems to have been grimly prophetic in his concern that Andrea would be victimized because of her vulnerability (and perhaps her high-profile critic status).

Morgan reports she has been excluded from the HLOSC with no specific rule cited, not allowed an appeal process, and been denied access not merely to nighttime shelter but to meals and other services there because of the discriminatory behavior of a worker at the Sunday meal where she declined to pray as was requested of people there. It's seems both abusive and unconstitutional for the HLOSC to allow a church leader to force people to pray as a condition for a meal--if this is an accurate account.

There has also been controversy about the HLOSC's declaration of a "No Impact" zone on the public sidewalks around the shelter. Shelter staff have claimed that there's a requirement for homeless people not to loiter or congregate in these public spaces on pain of implied retaliation. Morgan wa sleeping in one of the "no impact" zones last night.

Colby describes Morgan's general situation in the earlier indybay story noted above:

" Megan Andrea Morgan — she uses a walker too. Ms. Morgan has chronic fatigue and extreme pain from several medical conditions, making it difficult for her to advocate for herself because she is just too tired and pained to be functional. Ms. Morgan has been chronically homeless, to my understanding, for the last three years since she lost a Section 8 voucher. Ms. Morgan suffers from several very serious medical conditions — she cannot survive on the streets. Ms. Morgan's primary care physician wrote a disability accommodation request letter asking that she be granted extended shelter so that tests could be performed to determine the cause of her serious medical conditions. This request has not been fulfilled, stopping Ms. Morgan from having these tests performed. Ms. Morgan requires a horizontal cushioned place, like a couch or bed, to rest during the day because she requires more rest than the Paul Lee Loft shelter allows her during its open hours. ..."

Long-time community activist Linda Lemaster, hearing Morgan's account on the radio, said "This is a great test for the Homeless Services Center, in fact, the whole sheltering system."

Morgan appeared exhausted and had trouble keeping her eyes open during the radio show and left the studio on foot, making her way through town with her walker. Photos of her can be found at Colby's earlier story.

Offers of assistance and messages can be left for Andrea at 831-423-4833.
§Additions
by Robert Norse Monday Aug 27th, 2012 12:46 AM
I made a few additions to the story when sending it out subsequently--to HUFF activists and supporters as well as other media, the Santa Cruz City Council, and Don Lane:


"She was also a leader in petitioning the HLOSC for correcting abusive treatment of abusive people there and was excluded from all services there after an incident which she reported as an assault, according to Colby's story.

Mayor Lane, on the Board of the HLOSC, had been notified previously of Morgan's situation and fielded some criticism of the HLOSC's missing or abusive procedures dealing with disabled homeless people on a Community Television show with Colby in July (audio of the show can be found at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120802.mp3.)

She felt sleeping visibly near the center might provide her more protection as a single woman than hiding in the bushes."

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by brent adams
Monday Aug 27th, 2012 1:08 AM
As terrible as this story is... Andrea slept behind the metal utility grate at the corner of Hwy 9 & Hwy 1. This is the busiest intersection in the city of Santa Cruz and it is on the main walk way for several hundred homeless folks and others.

While the robbing of a homeless woman is terrible, this seems to me like the least "safe" location to sleep in all of the City.
Mr. Norse uses this robbing to score points against Don Lane and the Homeless Service Center. I'd encourage this woman to sleep anyplace other than beside a highway and high traffic sidewalk would be. While 100 people have had their personal property trashed by police for sleeping deep in the woods, Andrea has had her belongings stolen while sleeping adjacent to a major thoroughfare.
by Confused
Monday Aug 27th, 2012 10:39 AM
Was one filed?
by Rachel C
Monday Aug 27th, 2012 4:04 PM
The is the true face of over half the homeless that the SC City Council and SCPD don't want you to see. Instead they stereotype and criminalize the homeless. This woman is of a victim of the lack of safety net for people who become disabled.

Most people could be one paycheck away from being homeless if the main earner becomes disabled. Guess what you go from being a citizen to being a criminal, but in truth she and all the other homeless disabled are victims of SC's ignorance and greed.

Plus a Homeless Services Center run by uncaring, and unfair dictators. She's on the street yet the man who killed the businesswoman was not only given homeless services, but he was acting dangerous while at HSC and the people who run HSC campus didn't call the police on him. All they did was threaten the homeless people using the services at the with eviction if they talked to the media or anyone else.

Better hope it doesn't happen to you!
As Andrea's representative and advocate, I can confirm that Robert Norse is not making something out of nothing. Andrea's sleeping locations are limited by her disabilities and other factors.

The point is that the Homeless Services Center (HSC) banned her from shelter there in apparent retaliation for her filing disability motivated assault charges with the SCPD against a church volunteer who is part of providing meals at the HSC dining hall on the weekends. This made Andrea homeless. If she was not banned in apparent retaliation for filing assault charges, she would not have been robbed. As a consequence of her disabilities and other factors, Andrea is not able to sleep more surreptitiously and less dangerously.

Moreover, I asked the City Council to accommodate Andrea's disabilities by designating a "safe sleep zone" where she can sleep with 2 to 3 other individuals in which anti-sleeping ordinances would not be enforced. This would also have safeguarded Andrea from robbery. The City Council has ignored my request although City Clerk Administrator Bren Lehr confirmed the City Council received my disability accommodation request on Andrea's behalf as her representative and advocate.