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Human Rights Under Attack in the City of Santa Cruz
by Dennis Etler
Tuesday Jun 9th, 2015 5:06 PM
The impending closure of the Homeless Services Center, due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, will deprive the homeless of Santa Cruz their basic human rights. The United States is not a poor, developing country, but the self-avowed richest nation on Earth. It is deemed exceptional and indispensable by our leaders. but it can't supply necessary, minimal services such as shelter, meals, showers, toilet facilities and a secure place to store personal belongings and receive mail, to its most disadvantaged citizens, as mandated by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a founding document of the UN to which the United States is a signatory. As such, the City of Santa Cruz is in gross violation of the basic human rights of its citizens. In a civilized society an injury against one is an injury against all.
Human Rights Under Attack in the City of Santa Cruz.

The impending closure of the Homeless Services Center (HSC), due to the withdrawal of State administered federal emergency funds, will deprive the homeless of Santa Cruz their basic human rights. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a founding document of the UN to which the United States is a signatory, states unequivocally that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” The United States is not a poor, developing country, but the self-avowed richest nation on Earth. It is deemed exceptional and indispensable by our leaders, but it can't supply necessary, minimal services such as shelter, meals, showers, toilet facilities and a secure place to store personal belongings and receive mail, to its most disadvantaged citizens.

While the HSC has been providing basic humans services to its clientele since 1986 it is still far from adequate and many people are turned away or otherwise go unserved. The recent denial of emergency funding to the tune of $350,00 and increases in insurance premiums and other expenses have resulted in the HSC running a structural deficit of $600,000 or approximately 18% of its $3.4 million dollar 2015 budget (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150526/santa-cruz-homeless-services-facing-cuts ).

This shortfall is being used as an excuse to curtail all essential services to the homeless, resulting in the locking of the HSC gates as of July 1, 2015. But in 2012 with revenues of $2,114,000 and expenses of $2,538,000 the HSC was able to continue functioning with a $423,000 structural deficit or a 20% shortfall. Thus the loss of some funding in 2015 ($350,000 or about 10% of the overall budget) and other increased expenses should not of necessity entail the denial of basic human rights to a significant portion of the population of Santa Cruz.

This is especially the case when funds are readily available from the City for a $420,000 increase in monies allocated for “economic development” (City Budget page 248) and while over 100 city bureaucrats and functionaries make more than $200,000 in total annual pay and benefits (http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/santa-cruz/?page=3&s=-total). The assault on human rights in Santa Cruz, however, is apparently not happening in Monterey or Salinas that are said to have received similar cuts in emergency federal funding. Recent news stories from Monterey for instance report that the City Council has voted an additional $500,000 for homeless services (http://www.montereyherald.com/social-affairs/20150520/monterey-approves-500k-homeless-spending-plan), especially targeting homeless youth, veterans and women (http://www.montereyherald.com/social-affairs/20150527/advocate-community-has-resources-to-help-monterey-homeless-women).

Meanwhile, the Salinas City Council apparently has the the discretion to disburse federal funds as they see fit. According to the Californian “The Salinas City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to disburse a little more than $2.6 million in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funding. The money is distributed to American cities annually in three main ways — through the Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME investment partnerships program and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program — the latter of which primarily addresses homelessness. This year, on staff’s recommendations, the council voted to spend $1.9 million on CDBG programs, $543,083 on the HOME program and $172,842 on the ESG program.” (http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2015/05/13/council-doles-million-federal-hud-money/27221591/). If Salinas has the ability to allocate federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds why not Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz likes to portray itself as an affluent, progressive California city. But nearly 22% of the population of Santa Cruz lives below the poverty line (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0669112.html) (http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Santa-Cruz-California.html), and most of the 41% who rent cannot afford the sky high prices for even modest accommodations and have to live hand to mouth just to make ends meet (http://www.cityonahillpress.com/2015/06/09/inching-up-and-crowded-out/). Santa Cruz is statistically one of the poorest cities of its size in all of California (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20110922/santa-cruz-county-poverty-rate-highest-among-bay-area-counties). So while the majority of Santa Cruz residents struggle to survive and while City workers are denied a living wage (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/government-and-politics/20150527/santa-cruz-city-labor-workers-take-over-budget-meeting), City bureaucrats get fat at the public trough. Whose interest does the City serve when its policy makers earn incomes that dwarf that of most Santa Cruz residents? Who do they hobnob and identify with, the poor and downtrodden on our city streets, the working poor servicing the restaurants they eat at and the struggling working (former middle) class who spend their meager paychecks at local businesses or the wealthiest stratum of Santa Cruz society? Who do they serve? Need I ask?
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Santa Cruz Free GuideMeredy WellsThursday Jul 2nd, 2015 10:44 AM
investigative journalism in santa cruzunsignedMonday Jun 22nd, 2015 6:33 PM
Grand Jury Report SUPPORTS Warming Center ProgramWarming Center ProgramMonday Jun 22nd, 2015 5:10 PM
Monica's mismanagement? Accountable accounting?GThursday Jun 11th, 2015 5:44 AM
Federal Money???Wednesday Jun 10th, 2015 1:56 PM
Specifics?Robert NorseWednesday Jun 10th, 2015 7:52 AM
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