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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp Endorsement Petition
by Brent Adams & Stacey Falls
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 12:37 AM
We've created an endorsement petition to demonstrate to the city and county governments that the community of Santa Cruz supports the establishment of a regulated homeless camp.
sanctuary_logo_copy.jpg
sanctuary_logo_copy.jpg

Here is the text of the petition.
We're super happy that it has garnered more than 200 signatures in the first few days.
For a camp to be successfully established we'll need to get as many signatures as possible.
This camp will help many hundreds of people in the future. Please help us by reading the text and then signing it.

Here is the text of the petition.
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The idea of HOME is sacred.
We can all appreciate the value of our own place to lay ourselves down
and have a little peace as we rest and prepare to greet the day and the world outside.
Many among us don’t have this special restorative place, in fact, there are an estimated 1,500 people without a safe place to rest in the City of Santa Cruz, and another 1,500 people in the county. We, the undersigned believe there is a way to provide this to everyone—A Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp, a designated area where people can rest, keep their things, build community, and find the support they need to rebuild their lives.
Well meaning citizens have assumed the local services would provide what these folks need, but over the past years we’ve seen that despite the many day services provided, 95% of homeless folks still fend for themselves out in the cold dark night as they sleep out in the open. Emergency shelter space can be a 2 month wait and many report that they are never admitted at all. Maximum bed space is enough for only 5% of the homeless population.
Consequently, most of our homeless population sleep out in the open, in bushes, in doorways, and in the woods in violation of the city ordinance which bans sleeping after 11 pm. This illegal camping exposes homeless people to inclement weather, violence and theft from others in the homeless community, harassment from vigilante groups, and scorn from the rest of the citizenry. Often the desperation one feels when sleeping out in the open exacerbates other existing conditions like mental illness and drug abuse. It is nearly impossible for someone who has become homeless to rebuild their life when forced to sleep in a bush and carry the last vestiges of their life in a backpack on their back.
Besides the toll homelessness takes on the individuals who are forced to fend for themselves, local homeless experts have admitted that the amount of money spent on homeless is unquantifiable. The range of “services” provided is very large and includes emergency medical/ambulance, law enforcement/jail/courts, mental health etc, and the amount spent on these annually can easily climb into the tens of millions. That doesn’t include the several million dollars spent on actual homeless services. The amount is staggering when we realize how few people are actually served.
Sanctuary Camps provide safe and grounding spaces for individuals to address substance abuse, mental illness, and emotional problems. People could learn about services available to them, and have support around taking medication or staying sober. Besides offering assistance to the county’s homeless population, a Sanctuary Camp would improve the city overall, reducing general vagrancy in residential, business and tourist areas, decreasing crime and police calls for homeless issues, and setting aside natural areas as places for recreation, not homeless encampments. Examples all over the country demonstrate that with Sanctuary Camps communities are safer and cleaner, and homeless people are better able to move up and out of homelessness.
Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp proposes the establishment of a pilot camp of between 25 - 50 residents to demonstrate its effectiveness over the winter. This will require a 1 acre piece of land on city, county, private or church property. Additionally the camp will request a garbage dumpster emptied weekly. The camp will use 1 porta-potty per 20 persons. A list of rules will be enforced 24 hours a day at the gate staffed in rotating shifts by a Responsible Person and a Support Person with the support of an external Steering Committee. The camp will be bound by an Art Wall and and Entrance Portal. The camp will have good relations with local authorities, the media and the community at large.
We, the undersigned, encourage our city and county elected officials to allow the creation of a Sanctuary Camp and to form a partnership by allowing use of a small parcel of land and a dumpster service contract. This camp will cost very little, but will do so much.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Ava Vucca
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 9:41 AM
This is not a good idea. Even though I support homeless shelters and want the best for all human beings, setting up a homeless camp is not simple nor the answer for the current homeless population in Santa Cruz, and brings up many issues. My comment is not about placing judgement on people or their choices and even I was homeless at one point in my life. Sadly I have seen Santa Cruz change for the worse over the last few years, with violence, drugs, and harassment. Unfortunately when we talk about homelessness in our community there is usually an underlying emotional or physical component that has resulted in homelessness. There is a a lot of drugs/addiction, mental illness, stealing, and anger involved here, and I've seen it. I think many people in the community have been harassed by homeless and transient people when simply minding their own business. Infact those that aren't homeless get harassed more than those that are. Now I'm not saying this applies to everyone but it's what I've experienced from working and knowing many in the homeless population. Even though there maybe people who could potentially use this idea in a positive manner we can't ignore the other side of this issue.

Finally, the bottom line is if people really wanted a homeless camp because they choose to be homeless and they have the best intentions for the community, than any stable, well meaning, would be able to organize such a thing without having this petition. Infact, I've seen it happen. If people are in a good place mentally, and without addiction problems then they can organize these kinds of community set ups, with or without homes or money.

We should always help our human family but I feel this idea wouldn't be good for Santa Cruz and wouldn't really change anything, as people who have issues are still going to be sleeping just about anywhere and need a different kind of solution which I would love to work with further.
by G
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 10:43 AM

I see lots of arguments against a Sanctuary Camp, with lots of reasons. Personally, I have yet to form a firm opinion on the Sanctuary Camp proposal (other than being annoyed by the time wasted getting around to actually doing it). But I do have a request of you fine citizens.

Can any of you please answer a simple question; why is sleep a crime? It is incredibly difficult to get an honest answer to that question. Politicians won't answer. Law enforcement won't answer. Judges won't answer. Religious figureheads won't answer. No one will answer. They all seem OK with criminalizing sleep, but all seem much too embarrassed to answer the simple question; why is sleep a crime?

The question isn't about those actions and habits you associate with others. There are existing laws against violence, public intoxication, drugs, stealing, trespassing, sitting, etc. When sleep is a crime, a basic human function, you are making it illegal to exist. How can you, in good conscience, do so? I, and history, would really like an answer, before it is too late.

WHY IS SLEEP A CRIME?

by Ava
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 11:14 AM
Sleep is not a crime. It's almost like we are ignoring the real issue here and pretending this whole thing is about sleeping.
I've had friends here that were homeless and slept just fine, because they chose places that were discrete and safe, in fact it's pretty easy to do anywhere if you're in the right mind set, as I've traveled cross country as a broke jobless 20 something. When people are sleeping in doorways and other places in public areas where most people would usually be awake there is an underlying problem. Unfortunately we can't be like Japan and have places where you can actually go to sleep anytime of the day and it's common and easy to do.
People get emotional about this topic, it disturbs people, hey look at me, because ultimately it's about much more than sleeping.
by G
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 12:24 PM
Sleep is indeed a crime. It is illegal in ALL of California (according to judge Gallagher (emphasis his) and the local Appellate). You are ignoring the question, why is that? It is a simple question.

Why is sleep a crime?

Even if your friends slept 'discreetly', they were still breaking the law. That is an ugly fact. Your choosing to ignore that fact does not change the fact that it is a fact. Sleep is a crime. If you were previously unaware of that fact, well, now you can no longer claim ignorance, because it is a fact, and judge Gallagher was very clear about that fact. So, again, I ask a simple question.

Why is sleep a crime?

My apologies if y'all lack an answer that isn't deeply embarrassing.
by Ava
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 1:07 PM
Yes, I know the legality involved here, however, there are many many things in life that are against the law, that are considered crimes, yet people do everyday, and other things that aren't but should be. Our legal system and government in my opinion is extremely faulty. Because of this it is important to use intelligence when navigating how we make our choices in life, and decide when and how we break institutionalized laws.
I think that one of the arguments is not that people aren't allowed to sleep, it's where they should or shouldn't sleep. While there are many places it is legal to sleep there are other places that are not. If there where no laws about sleeping would that make it ok to sleep in doorways or other areas being used by the public when there are other options, or would there be too separate ordinances making it ok to sleep elsewhere and not on business property?

Would you open your home and space for others to sleep freely? Shouldn't all those supporting this allow others to sleep on their property, that would give people quite a bit of sleeping space.

In my experience most people that are homeless don't often get bothered or disturbed when sleeping unless there is a problem-thus 1,500 homeless in Santa Cruz. I wonder what the statistics are for how many people sleeping in public that get disturbed are also being cited for other things than sleeping. People make their own decisions. I think it's not the best decision to sleep in some places that I've seen, and I wouldn't do so and I doubt we would find you sleeping on the side of New Leaf on Pacific Ave unless something was wrong. When I first got to Santa Cruz I was homeless and jobless for weeks and slept safely without bothering anyone or being bothered whetere it was legal or not. But what we are talking about here is the conflict that's been happening and when there is conflict there is usually an underlying problem and that's why I say this whole thing isn't about sleeping at all.

In fact I think we shouldn't even waste time arguing over this law, or putting money into it when there are much more relevant situations in need of attention. Honestly, whether it's illegal or legal it's not going to change much. Clearly people do what they do even though it's illegal, and how would making it legal truly address or make other people's lives better? People can sleep. Coming from a big city that's not sheltered in so many ways as Santa Cruz, there is a greater problem at hand and I'm worried for this town.

As a young woman in this town I am concerned and want to help people, and merely talking about sleeping space just doesn't cut it for me, instead of really getting down to the core of the problem of homelessness. There are many more hours of awake time that need to be addressed, and it's important to think about the community as a whole and not forget to think about what's best for everyone regardless of their housing status.

I don't think we should segregate people into a camp. Putting homeless people into a camp as a solution doesn't feel like a good thing at all. Like I said maybe you should provide your space as a sleeping space since you think others should. Remember we are talking about the 1,500 homeless population here and only a small percentage is part of the occupy movement and only a small percentage are well adjusted functioning people, while the majority have other harder life challenges that need to be addressed that go far beyond where to sleep.
by G
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 1:14 PM
There are laws on the books for trespassing. In fact, I was cited and arrested for trespassing, during PeaceCamp2011/PeaceCamp2012. Then, pre-trial, the charge was changed, and the judge AGGRESSIVELY banned ANY MENTION of the trespassing law used to arrest me. Even when, during trial, the prosecution displayed an image of a trespassing sign that cited that very trespassing law. I noticed it at the bottom of the sign, nudged my lawyer, Ed tried to raise the subject, and the judge barred any mention of the law, at all.

So I can understand why you too might be deeply embarrassed by the criminalization of sleep, DW.

Again I ask, why is sleep a crime? Are you trying to assert that human existence is subject to time, place, and manner regulation?
by Ava
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 1:26 PM
I'd like to add that in many places in California police can give chosen homeless people permits for sleeping. This seems to be a much better solution as it encourages interaction between police homeless people in a way that doesn't have to be simply to arrest but to help build a safe community for people and their choices.

I'm sorry to upset you. I not only do I care a lot about it's also my job as I provide free health services to Veterans and with the Mental Health Clinic, I'm involved, and I think it serves the community best when people actually get involved with what they care about.
Hand waving will not make that ugly fact go away. Just as criminalizing existence will not make 'others' go away.

Just because YOU admit to arriving in Santa Cruz recently and ILLEGALLY sleeping (without getting caught) does not mean that you were not a blatant criminal, according to the letter of the law. And just because YOU apparently stopped being a blatant criminal does not mean 'we' should stop talking about the criminalization of sleep. Not getting caught does not making robbing a bank OK, or perhaps in your rhetorical world it does?

The core problem of homelessness, day to day, is being branded a criminal for engaging in a life sustaining activity. The day to day harrassment for being an 'other' in Santa Cruz (also a chronic problem) is secondary to existence itself, as is the ban for HOMEOWNERS to let people sleep on their property, as well as a limit on the number (and TYPE) of people allowed inside a house. There is a pile of research showing the mental and physical impact of sleep deprivation, and even judge Gallagher asserted that was A FACT BEYOND DISPUTE (and yet still asserted that sleep is a crime). Research shows SLEEP DEPRIVATION CREATES MENTAL ILLNESS, so I am puzzled by your haphazard lack of concern.

In my experience, most people that habitually engage in blaming the victim are also very adverse to answering the simple question; why is sleep a crime?

Imagine the uproar if, instead of the word homeless, you had used a racial stereotype, or a gender stereotype, or a religious stereotype, or a sexual orientation stereotype...

But, for now, homelessness is apparently an acceptable stereotype (including the torture of sleep deprivation), which makes it OK to criminalize the existence of 'others'. Which is why I keep asking the simple question, for posterity, to find out why it is OK to be so hateful towards 'others'. Because, one way or another, the acceptability of this bigotry will end.

WHY IS SLEEP A CRIME?
by G
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 1:51 PM
The feeble 'demographic testimonials' seemed like an obvious knee jerk attempt at 'branding', to me. :)

Irregardless, the lack of an answer to a simple question is telling.

Why is sleep a crime?
by Linda Ellen Lemaster
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 2:21 PM
Ava, you would be surprised, I'm guessing from your tone above, to find out how MANY of these folks you are speaking at here, already are very much involved in their communities. As helpers and as service providers. You'd be surprised to learn how many housed Santa Cruzans share their couches and porches with unrelated others. You may be surprised to learn that for each homeless dude in his 20s who drops in a (closed) shop doorway to sleep with some wind-shielding on a given night, that there are three or four dozen men who are sleeping under the trash in dumpsters, in the bushes behind churches out of sight, on roofs downtown, and walking far into the mountains and greenbelt to be "away" from anyone who is determined to feel 'bugged."

You sound unaware to me, implying that most homeless people are somehow less resourceful and less careful and less concerned about the quality of environment left behind, than you are. I wish people could realize that all the "mess" (such as doodoo) people are talking about is coming from a small number of people, and those people are not ALL homeless folks.

The potential Sanctuary Camp you are criticizing would not be a "solution" to homelessness by itself, and would NOT be crowded with people. And it would be optional, only for those who can get with its maintenance program. It may prove to be a MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE way to provide safe shelter and to overcome the isolation some folks suffer from. Maybe it would not help the mental health people you are helping, but I imagine that would be an individualized decision.

If you believe that everyone can always find a place to HIDE, and you are not concerned about what's legal on the road, and this is good enough for you, I have to conclude that you've never had the flu while camping alone?

There are ten thousand ways to help someone who's unsafe. We all need to be humane rather than so cock-sure judgmental.

And I believe there are hundreds of ways for people to get sleep, but to tolerate this insanity of criminalization as the primary tool being used to screw up peoples' lives, at great expense to the state and it's agents' paychecks, rather than solving problems of logistics, ped-traffic flow, and stowage, is to have your heads on backwards. It's stupid and self-defeating for all involved, and it's dangerous to the targeted, intended "victims": those who appear to be homeless.

Your worldly experience would be a real boon, if you were open to the kind of problem-solving activities you recommend to the rest of us, and would care to share it in small groups of others concerned.

People need to realize that HOMELESSNESS continues to GROW, right now...

... and in places like Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Francisco where housing is the most expensive in the world, it is growing faster (of course). Again this year, I can see at least three systems that have been cut so deeply, people are becoming ejected (locally). And this doesn't include the folks who are losing their subsidized housing, HUD and locals have announced the coming "sequestration" cuts but I didn't count that here - much of it will show up next year.

If you were already poor, or had other limitations, when you became homeless; or if you were not experienced as a traveler or camper when eviction hits, the noose of systems breakdown throughout our social systems would bite you harder than one can imagine ahead of time.

If you believe that sleep (including the quality of your sleep) is not important, no wonder you sound so innocent generally.

If you don't want to learn more about the scene here regarding sleep, consider a peek at what was learned during the Holocaust. The data is available. The criminalization of sleep is cruel and unusual, and unnecessary, and it fits into further withdrawal of public spaces and continuing deep destruction of 'safety net' resources, in a way that borders on genocidal. It is a false myth that anyone who wantsto can "hide" to sleep, not to mention corrupt.

We believe we can get away with treating human beings like this, but in a war, this criminality would be self evident. If Santa Cruzans can't support simple, cheap, largely self-managed, sleep zones -- we are a very long way from dealing with your "daytime" problems as a community, too.

by (A)
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 2:43 PM
The right of the poor to sleep on the Commons goes back to the Magna Carta and the Forest Charter, the foundations of all our law. Current property owners can trace their title back to the murders of the origina native americans who owned the land. In other words it is all stolen property with no legitimate title.

Receiving stolen property is a crime. you are the REAL criminals, not the transients.
by zouzou
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 5:46 PM
I noticed this when there was a Patch article that was flooded with rabid TBSC posters. And then that thread magically disappeared.

Then I noticed there was a group called citizens for a better santa cruz which was flooded by TBSC posters who basically tried to dominate the group. there too some threads disappeared.

I'm noticing that it's happening here too, that TBSC under assumed names are trying to shift discussion and focus.

And of course now that there is the so-called safety commission, shannon collins murder trial, HRC gate and proposals in the news, TBSC members are flooding the sentinel as well.

It's going to be hard to have any rational community discussion, education and action with so much hate and anger being stirred up on the internet, print and TV.
by RazerRay
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 9:01 PM
"Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp proposes the establishment of a pilot camp of between 25 - 50 residents..."

NO! NOT ANOTHER dysfunctional Interfaith satellite shelter codependent-go-round where they lodge the same people for fucking ever. It's the Dignity Village model and it's not suitable for this area with the HUGE number of travelers all year round. Brent is playing to the "Landed-Homeless" of Santa Cruz.

After his Klean Kamp Pledge lead balloon at the Red Church branding all campers as needle-dropping river defecators, he owes someone something, but the something is for him to 'get lost'

Here's my idea:
Property open from 4pm to 9 or 10am next morning with room for at least 30-50 (for a start) first-come first serve people camping on or near the ground with facilities necessary for legal habitation (toilets etc) and a full time when open security guard/guards. If you're drunk or stoned too stupid to stay out of trouble find somewhere else to stay.

Quiet mode enforced after 8pm and radio/tv usage on site?

No.

Use headphones or turn the noisemaker off. No one wants to hear your favorite music or talk show or ball game as they try to get some shut eye. The site is for sleeping or winding down to go to sleep. With both of one's eyes shut for a change. Then in the morning you leave.

The tentative scenario I described above is not, nor should it be, much different than the rules in a State Park campground.
by TBSC member
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 9:14 PM
But I actually agree with Ray's idea. His idea is about the only "camp" suggestion I've heard that actually makes sense, in the sense that the community might actually accept it.
by RazerRay
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 9:31 PM
...and this is the sentiment of almost every camper I know.

All I want is a safe place to sleep at night. I DO NOT WANT OR NEED an 'alternative social services' center.

The only other thing I think that's really needed is something the shelter closed for a variety of reasons. Pack storage. So one can go look for work, a meal, whatever... without carrying your pack everywhere. It shouldn't be at the camp site, and in some ways it's more problematic (getting stuck with people's gear who vanish etc), but I think it's an important service.

When I first got here in 1976 there was a place down by the Asti called "The Switchboard". A volunteer operation, it ended up on Ocean before it dissolved. All it offered was a job (and there were jobs that paid the rent around here for travelers and the low end worker at the time but that's a MUCH larger problem)/ride board, a local phone and info, and a train depot like pack check for 25c a day... You got a baggage claim tag and they put your luggage in the loft... no in-out..

For most people who were traveling or locally houseless it was all that was needed. Now due to a rather swollen (everywhere in the US not just here) number of houseless, a campground is a must, but please. Keep it simple.

by TBSC member
Wednesday Aug 7th, 2013 9:53 PM
If someone was to follow through with Ray's basic premise, the optimal location would have to be off Shaffer road at the Homeless Garden Project. If a parcel of that land could be set aside for a small camping area, and Barry Swenson (the property owner) was ok with that, it might actually fly and work. At least in terms of a pilot program. The best way to make it work would be to somehow co-op the idea with the HGP, have the campers work the farm in return for a camping voucher, make the farm more self sustaining, etc.

Or you could keep dicking around with this Sanctuary Camp idea, which will never fly.
by Sue
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 9:00 AM
It think Razor made a great point. The issue is about where can homeless sleep safe at night, not where they can live. Even in Brent's video they interviewed the people just want a place to sleep, they may not want any other services or want to change their behaviors and that's up to them not to us. It's not a smart thing for Santa Cruz, a small town to try and start a 24 hours camp for people who ultimately have alot of other problems. We aren't a big city, but we do have a lot of people that come through here, so it's not just locals we are talking about helping, there is a much bigger group of people it's not a good idea. Santa Cruz gives a lot to it's community and the homeless situation despite what people think. There are many programs in place to help people if they want it. Despite the help that is available many choose to still live the way they do, Brent even says so in the proposal. Safe sleeping yes, permanent camp no.
by Buffalo Bill
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 1:18 PM
So why doesn't Goodwill open the old drive in for something like this on the off flea market days? Lot's of space. Limited access points in and out. It could be controlled as Ray suggested. It's close to transit. If "their business is changing lives", put up!

At the very least, it could be used as an RV or car camp for those living in their vehicles. Similar rules to Ray's plan.
by RazerRay
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 7:43 PM
I didn't know Goodwill owned the Drive-In property now.

But aside from that..

A campground independent of *direct* business support such as 'donated property' (goodwill weekend-used property, right?) and it *has to have* a stationary location hopefully that a traveler without bus fare or someone who works till 11 at night can get to, and also not be so far away that IF they get there and find the campground filled up they become stranded.

This is also important in the winter when it will undoubtedly act as an overflow site for the Armory. At that time rain protection for campers will also be necessary independent of the camper's equipment (to facilitate morning 'evacuations') such as a greenhouse type overhead frame with waterproof canvas tarp covering the entire area. (perhaps in smaller segments). In place for the rainy season with simple drainage arrangements, that should keep the mud/erosion issues under control as well.

Perhaps someone can locate an old circus tent on CraigsList. There are no tent shows anymore.. they had to end up somewhere... Or from a religious revival circuit show that was just blessed with a new tent... or some such.

Only half kidding (and digressing)

You know, the parcel at the corner of highway 1 that Karen Gillette and friends set up at was a sort of ideal location that's no longer available but city or county operated properties such as the already much camped-in Harvey West Park is an option. I don't know exactly how much physical space is required to camp 50, but it just couldn't take up that large an area and it WILL be cleared shortly after park opening anyway leaving the area open to day users.

by Buffalo Bill
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 8:23 PM
It's really as simple as that. If you have a plan that's designed to leave no trace, creates minimal impact on public space to others, has a real plan to administrate that minimizes impact on the community, then you have a chance here. The community cares about this issue. But it cares more about how it impacts their lives. Minimize the impact and people will listen. Clearing the camp daily allows it to be cleaned, and follows the principle of leave no trace.

Like Ray said, it's as simple as running something like a state campground (except maybe by a non-profit funded by county/city and donations). Same basic rules. It's a place to sleep, not a place to live. The community can live with something like that (properly managed). Any kind of long term shelter in place "campground" idea will be met with serious backlash by the community at large. It's good not to overthink these things and address the immediate needs. A safe place to sleep is an immediate need.
by Buffalo Bill
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 8:41 PM
And as previously mentioned, this is an issue too. Seems like something like this could be dealt with fairly easily by putting some lockers downtown, at the metro center makes the most sense. But the city could also rent one of the current empty storefronts on Pacific and convert it to a locker property check area, which could also be used for outreach services.

Stuff like this isn't really inviting more homeless into the area from out of state. It's dealing with the issues at hand. This is the kind of service that is more valuable to the homeless population at large than just writing another check to the HSC.
by Brent Adams
Thursday Aug 8th, 2013 10:43 PM
_sleeping_murry_s_is_coming.jpg
_sleeping_murry_s_is_comi...

There are many names on this thread we've never seen posting to indybay before.

I'm thrilled that this vision has activated you to respond. Many of the comments seem to share the same talking points. Thats a bit fishy but none-the-less, welcome. Many of the comments indicate that some folks haven't read the text of the Endorsement Petition or seen the Video Presentation. I encourage you to do your homework before attacking, this way your statements will land better.

As for the idea that homeless folks don't "need" a place to keep a tent and some stuff safely, I respond with this. It may be true that some of them don't. I acknowledge this. .. but,.. The very idea that someone must move around with all of their possessions labels them as homeless. The ability to keep a tent stationary and to be able to rest at anytime and to keep personal items and to share in community and have a focal place to receive support from the community and to gather to support eachother and to offer support ... these are the very things that will assist a person to move up and out of homelessness. This focalized location is grounding and healing. It is home.

We've found by visiting many other cities where these camps exist that these characteristics are key. Why argue against them? What is the fear that these things bring up for you? What is the challenge to your comfort? Do you really like seeing a person carrying everything they own? Do you think that helps them find work? Does it help them blend in to the community and to begin to contribute and interact without your scorn and condemnation? Does it help them find emotional and physical and mental balance? I assert that it doesn't

We propose a very low cost option that will offer many people these elements. We propose a "home" not a place to sleep. If a place to simply "sleep" were helpful then we'd see folks moving out of homelessness from the shelter system. A very small number do. Shelters deny individual dignity. Anyone associated with managing a homeless shelter will tell you this.

We propose an increase in offered dignity. This dignity will trickle upward and improve your own lives. We will all benefit and be happier and healthier people. Our community will benefit. The local economy will benefit. Why would you be against this? Please consider these questions carefully.
by Sue
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 8:37 AM
I just read what Brent wrote, and I have already watched the video and though well done and a good option for the cities interviewed I still don't agree that we should have a 24 hours camp. I like what Ray and Bill said. I think there should be lockers for people and a safe sleeping place. Than during the day if people chose to use some of the other services we offer in town, or perhaps create other daytime services, or even become part of the homeless garden project. I think giving people options of ways to spend their time during the day is important, perhaps guiding people to make better choices and learn different skills or become involved in something they might want to. These kinds of things are not hard to set up and run, but the idea of a 24 hours camp isn't the solution I would choose.
by Happy Camping
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 8:46 AM
The 16 minute video produced by Brent Adams, with examples of sanctuary camps from around the country:

Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWhgjXrKaY
by Buffalo Bill
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 10:09 AM
"I'm thrilled that this vision has activated you to respond. Many of the comments seem to share the same talking points. Thats a bit fishy but none-the-less, welcome. Many of the comments indicate that some folks haven't read the text of the Endorsement Petition or seen the Video Presentation. I encourage you to do your homework before attacking, this way your statements will land better."

And here lies the problem. Instead of responding with a passive aggressive answer promoting why your idea is better than any other idea, why don't you listen to what others are saying? It's great you have an idea. Lot's of others do too. Instead of shooting down the ideas of others (which gives you a chance to plug your idea again and shine the spotlight on you), why don't you allow the community to debate the merits of your idea without you getting defensive about their suggestions?

It's not about the idea. It's about the solution. And the bigger issue is a safe place to sleep, not a safe place to congregate.
by Roy McAlister
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 3:23 PM
Reading this thread with interest.

Since It’s legal to sleep on private property with the permission of the property owner and/or legal property occupant/manager/lessee, how about a local Sleep Sanctuary Placement registry?

The idea being that a placement center run by homeless advocate volunteers can screen and register any homeless person who agrees to and signs a contract of conduct agreement. Sleep Sanctuary Placement staff will also screen and register local property owners who are willing to allow people to sleep on their property. The screening process could look much like Razer’s rules for homeless camps with limitations and restrictions regarding occupancy, drug/alcohol use, noise, hours, trash, etc., For those just looking to sleep and not be harassed, I think it could be a viable alternative to working with local/state government, which has proven futile.

The idea is grassroots, is perfectly legal, doesn’t require city/community approval or money, doesn’t impose on any public shared space...and connects real compassionate housed people with homeless people who are just trying to survive. It also has the potential to allow a homeless person to connect and network with regular local working housed people who can vouch for their character and abilities and be a solid reference, which is a great way to get those on hard times back on their feet and become self-reliant.

Just a thought.
by Zouzou
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 3:37 PM
Western thought is often dominated by linear and oppositional thought processes. point /counterpoint. for or against, yes or no. etc.

I've seen suggestions for an rv camp, which makes sense.
I've seen suggestions for a sanctuary camp (with services). which makes sense.
I've seen suggestions for a sleep only get your ass out of the area by 8am, no noise, no frills camp, that makes sense.
I've seen suggestions for porta potties and permapotties, both make sense as long as the shit ends up in the potties and not the rivers and ground.


Why is everyone waiting for the one solution like the sky will part and it'll solve most of the problems. Even if we adopted a car park, an rv park, 2 sanctuary camps, there will still be lots of room for more solutions and improvement. So maybe people can start working together on a couple no-brainer easy projects and see if the current TBSC dominated council is going to let ANYTHINg other than a military style police camp in SC.

Personally, given the nature of the current city council, I'm not entirely convinced they want any solution other than to run people out of town. My perception is that the TBSC dominated council tends to look at the bulk of SC's homeless issue as a matter of enabling bums and addicts and what they want to enact will be more laws, more fences, ID cards, rentacops, zero tolerance for grubby stinky people attitude.

by Buffalo Bill
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 4:11 PM
I think Roy suggested a very interesting and viable idea. It's certainly outside the box and not something I've currently heard anyone else talking about. The one thing about Roy's idea I'd be very careful about is consideration for any property owners neighbors as well. While a property owner might have the best intentions, the neighbors likely won't be pleased. If the concerns of the neighbors aren't addressed up front, the neighbors will get code enforcement involved, make life miserable for the property owner, and pit neighbor against neighbor (which nobody wants).

I still like the idea. I think it's got legs. But like anything, it's all about perception. Leave no trace will always have the best chance of success.
by Roy McAlister
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 4:40 PM
B-Bill writes, “I'd be very careful about is consideration for any property owners neighbors as well.”

Therein lies just one of the concerns, no question. Certainly a screening process of property owners could help in that regard. Property owners could list who they are willing to sponsor for placement…1-6 homeless…women only…women with children…families….etc. They also don’t necessarily need to provide just open space….there are a lot of extra rooms and places indoors. Yard size and housing density would be an issue to consider for placement... people with larger yards and/or acreage have more flexibility…but then you have transportation issues.

I guess what I would like to see is a broader dispersment of homeless people into the community to help alleviate the “Us vs Them” mentality that is born of a concentration of homeless in any one given location…or a “concentration camp”, so to speak. I grew up in a family that sponsored/housed many foster kids, Viet Nam/Cambodian refugees, shunned family members, runaways….and the homeless. And what “legitimized” them in the eyes of the community was that they didn’t belong to a so called “unsavory group from the camp”…they were my foster brothers/sisters, friends, guests…they came to any social/employment/education situation as a member, not an outcast. They integrated much easier into the community this way without labels or stigma. I’m also a better person for the experience…I truly believe it.
by RazerRay
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 6:53 PM
As a main program the private home backyard placement is utterly inadequate and is likely to be top heavy in umn 'coordinating management' to sponge off of, or OTHERWISE ADVERSELY AFFECT the program. Favoritism (without supervisory recourse), as seen at the institutionalized river st homeless 'shelter' being one adverse effect I can think of off the top of my head.

Perhaps as a secondary program for finding 'permanent' backyard placements for some, but it's not a majority solution... Especially for travelers.

I ask for a county or city operated facility staffed by people employed (or contracted) BY the city or county NOT an independent volunteer arrangement where the end result would undoubtedly be bad... to worse, than currently encountered by the houseless.

I want a Solution. Because I have, as they say, "Skin in the game", as do most of my friends on the street who seem to have no problem with what's been just described as a 'military' camp. I've been informally polling people who I know who camp and that's the result.

They just want a place to safely sleep... ASAP.

The point is to create a place for people who just want to sleep safe. Everything else can come later, or not at all. The issue is a place for people to sleep safely.
by Roy McAlister
Friday Aug 9th, 2013 10:30 PM
I hear you, Ray..every homeless person needs a place to sleep now. But there simply is no such thing as an absolute, one size fits all solution. In fact, the only absolute we face in this world is death….but that doesn’t help solve issues of life. So based on my years of experience, I do what I can, when I can and for whom I can.

Not to be glib, but favoritism and cronyism amongst government policy makers is far more rampant than in the private world. There’s no escaping favoritism anywhere…but that doesn’t mean we should use the flaws of humanity as an excuse to dismiss what we can do as individuals. The drums of intolerance are growing louder in Santa Cruz….the idea of proposing to the community an all encompassing camp with no direction or path to self-reliance is not going to fly. The fact that it will look more like an internment, concentration or refugee camp than a sanctuary to people on both sides of the fence is not going to get city council approval. It’s too far reaching…overly idealistic…overwhelmingly unpopular with the current community sentiment…and destined for refusal. No one will be helped.

I wish it wasn’t this way and it could work, but I’m a realist…and the reality is that in any sizable accumulation of the human species, there is a spectrum of human nature. There will always be angels and there will always be assholes….the homeless community is not immune from this fact of human nature. Business owners/taxpayers/working class stiffs don’t see the angels, but they deal with the assholes on a daily basis. So, I have a saying…’Bad breath is better than no breath’ …which in this case means, It’s better to find safe sanctuary for some than none at all. Harsh, but real.

I have much experience with empowering individuals without the need to kiss the ring of permission from our leaders (I hate that fucking word…’leaders’). There was no courage, no brains and certainly no fucking heart in the black bag held by the man behind the curtain of smoke and mirrors. Dorothy got home with the help of her friends. “We are each other’s Angels”, as my good friend Chuck Brodsky wrote in song. Real people with real compassion will find real solutions….there will be no gift from a government committee who answers to local business owners. You know that.

I don’t post here ever, but I lurk. I am throwing out suggestions for realistic, grassroots, low cost/impact, legal, non-permission seeking ideas of change that average people can do. Ideas that are mutually beneficial to all members of the community. Yes, there are flaws…there are always flaws. But that’s what dialogue is about..

I have a track record of enacting change…I’m not just a raging idealist with a computer and a protest sign.

Sampling:

A segment from a PBS documentary about the state of our health care insurance. This kid was dying from leukemia and had less than 60 days to live unless he could find a bone marrow donor. The international bone marrow registry cost $30,000.00 not covered by insurance. We’re not gonna cure cancer anytime soon, but we can help save a life today:

http://www.leapingmedia.com/Media/GuitarWS.mov

“La Voce Delle Mani”…the voice of the hands. An article about helping to relocate Libyan refugees into Italy who were being turned away. This was also based on the individual sponsorship registry concept:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11918537@N06/9477255228/in/set-72157635001131501/lightbox/

Being presented on stage in Italy with a civil rights award from the president of the Ligurian region for my work with the Libyan refugees:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11918537@N06/9474508637/in/set-72157635001131501/lightbox/

An article about my fund raising for homeless Tsunami victims in Japan…again, a placement registry:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11918537@N06/9477252432/in/set-72157635001131501/lightbox/

The national Italian newspaper (La Nazione) about my fund raising to rebuild a school destroyed by floods in Rocchetta di Vara, Italy:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11918537@N06/9477247178/in/set-72157635001131501/lightbox/

I could go on, but there’s no need. Each of these actions required no governmental approval or government funding. And you can bet I use a lot of favoritism to make real shit happen.

Lastly, as I write this, I have less than $300.00 to my name…I give far more than I take and I get results.
by RazerRay
Saturday Aug 10th, 2013 9:20 AM
Focusing on creating a situation that serves the most people, not a hand-selected few isn't idealism. It's also bound to be the most cost-effective. How it gets funded is way beyond my warren of expertise, but working with individuals just couldn't be more cost-effective than supplying the basic needs of a group of people, and the funding should be through a local government agency, preferably from government funds that donators can CONTRIBUTE to would assure SOME consistency of funding.

The focus needs to be an 'open enrollment' environment fulfilling the immediate need to sleep for the largest number of people possible including people passing through. Realize that many of the local houseless people who'd avail themselves of the service may only use the facility on an occasional basis as well... not every night.

That's a GOOD thing. It prevents 'attachment' and attempts to act as enforcers for camp rules, which would be a site manager and security guard's duty.

That WAS the problem with security at Occupy... The inmates, for reasons sociologically obvious, but not to be recounted here, ended up 'running the asylum'.

PS.
I think media agitprop has fomented the idea that people who have no homes are more unruly than the average resident but all one has to do is peruse the main beach madness or get run off the sidewalk (or run over by a car) by people who don't understand the word 'single file' (or yield for pedestrians) downtown on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday to see that's simply not the case.

Pps
I understand what's been said about groups of people being easier to place blame on, often for the acts of one individual in the group, or because of a cohesiveness of the group in relation to the surrounding area's residents, or... but dispersing people all over the county just does not sound like a reasonable, OR MONITOR-ABLE (security, health, etc) overall solution.

Surely a city that could attempt to buy a million dollar dog run for their nuevo-gentry (lighthouse field) could come up with a location for human sleeping, or maybe we live in a city where the leaders are more concerned with the well-being of dogs, than humans...

Just sayin'
Before reading about a solution that already exists, everyone should reread Razer Ray's comments, because he is precisely on the mark. The ASAP is my personal favorite, but the overall focus on safe sleep as a primary goal is exactly right, in my opinion, as well as the related issues, including storage (a tough problem on its own, just ask Ed about his protest truck bed).

The list of solutions that Zouzou posted is also worth rereading (including the point about multiple solutions). But there is at least one solution that wasn't on that list. It already exists, is in daily use, has broad and deep support from the City, County, State, Country, and homeowners. It creates secure jobs (often union approved!), provides exposure to skills training from professionals (and interviews with decision makers), provides a place to sleep, a roof, toilets, showers, regular meals, clothing, laundry, and is available 24 hours a day. Jail. I've heard the cost per individual is (rough order of magnitude) $10,000 to $100,000 a year. I used to joke that a hotel, with room service, could be cheaper.

As a nerd, my preference is modular solutions. If one piece fails, replace it, and keep everything else running. That is why I think the jail solution is a bad solution. It creates more problems than it solves. When it fails, it will fail big.

Still wondering why sleep is a crime...
by Brent Adams
Wednesday Aug 14th, 2013 2:05 AM
Hello friends,

I’m very excited to greet you following the first 500 signatures to the Sanctuary Camp Endorsement Petition (co-written by Stacey Falls)

We are committed to making this vision a reality and with your vote of agreement we now can show our elected officials, community leaders
and the community at large that we have the support of many people who live in Santa Cruz County. We’d like to reach 1,000 signatures on
the Endorsement Petition before we present it to local officials.

We need your help to share it with your friends, family and community.

Over the next few months we have some exciting things planned as we move towards the establishment of our pilot camp. We’ll be hosting a
Forum in early October inviting the founders of several successful Sanctuary Camps from other states to speak, as well as an expert on mental
health and homelessness. We expect to stage our first pilot camp in mid-November.

This new movement offers trickle-up dignity and is a revolution in thinking that will help hundreds of people in the future.
Thank you for your support.
Brent Adams

Watch our awesome Video Presentation here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWhgjXrKaY

Meetings: All Are Welcome.
Sanctuary Camp Campaign Info and Planning Meeting
1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month 6pm
Resource Center For Non-Violence (Side Door)
612 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA.

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/santacruzsanctuary

Please join our Google Group to receive bi-weekly notifications
email santacruzsanctuary [at] gmail.com
by markm8128
Wednesday Jan 1st, 2014 1:19 PM
I am creating a web page devoted to documenting
the many brutal homeless camp evictions in California:

California Homelessness Reporter
http://www.california-homelessness-reporter.org/sample-page/homelessness-camp-evictions/

Please let me know if you learn about any others!