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Updates from Santa Cruz's Struggling Benchlands Meal & Santa Barbara's Peter Marin
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Saturday Apr 4th, 2020 10:00 AM
Santa Barbara activist Peter Marin blasts Santa Barbara's "Let 'Em Die:" Lack of Services. Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry Calls for More Volunteers, Warns Local Authorities Violate CDC Safeguards for Those Outside
NORSE'S NOTES: Writer and activist Peter Marin ( has this angry and familiar interchange with Kimberlee Albers, "Homeless Assistance" Program Manager in Santa Barbara ( ). The arguments and toxic duck-the-issue deficiencies are mirrored here in Santa Cruz's reassure-a-lot do-nothing wait-until-folks-are-already-infected-before-providing-shelter "solutions". Albers is Santa Barbara's PR counterpart to the "talk till they drop" homeless "experts" here such as Assistant Manager Susie O'Hara and Homeless [Non-] Response Manager Brooke Newman.

The National Homeless Union on Thursday presented two hours of organizational peptalk and numerous local reports at with local activists Keith McHenry and Alicia Kuhl presenting the grim Santa Cruz picture. If and exactly how local activists can coalesce and push back--or create their own solutions by using ties with renters, elders, disabled folks, immigrants, and the expendable in other cities, is really the big question.

Few activist groups are braving police threats and the very real danger of infection by providing service and taking action to address issues the City and County are stalling on (motel shelter, food services, decent sanitary measures, providing survival necessities like tents, tarps, blankets, etc.). But if folks are willing to go out to address their own necessities, it's not merely compassion but common sense to demand and provide life-saving provisions and require authorities to act immediately. What kills those outside will kill those inside.

Irregular reports, interviews, and updates are available archived at .

Regular meals will continue to be served as long as Food Not Bombs supplies and volunteers hold out 1 PM and 4 PM at the San Lorenzo Benchlands.

FNB worker Keith McHenry provides two updates (this morning and yesterday morning) to be posted later today at . A recent interview with Peter Marin will also be available there.


From: Peter Marin
Sent: Friday, April 3, 2020 12:27 PM
To: Albers, Kimberlee
How does one find/get/read new county homeless guidelines?
How do they get/find/read them?
Lost as sea. Or at see. P

On Friday, April 3, 2020, 9:40:50 PM PDT, Albers, Kimberlee wrote:
The links above include the CDC guidance and other information shared with the providers. There is also a flyer included for download that is being distributed by street outreach workers as they engage with persons experiencing homelessness, provide COVID-19 education and lunch bags.

I am keenly aware that these links will probably frustrate you. They are not enough. We are hard at work to develop more capacity to shelter.

A primary barrier to moving forward has been getting permission for use of appropriate sites, this includes both a gymnasium/ hall structure in South County with showers and hotel/motels. Any influence to obtain use of sites would be much appreciated.

Best, Kimberlee

From: Peter Marin
Sent: Saturday, April 4, 2020 12:03 AM
To: Albers, Kimberlee
Cc: Geoff Green ; Geoff Green ; Roger Himovitz
Subject: Re: A Response to Today's County Release re Emergency Homeless Services?

Kimberlee: This IT? This meager and essentially useless stuff? This is what the county has produced, all this time?
We both know, Kimberlee: This is pathetic.

My frustrations, which of course you yourself have predicted, follow, but at the bottom you'll find what I hope are useful suggestions.
And I know you are not responsible for this.

Where's the food to replace the canceled meals and feedings?
Where's even a suggestion of shelter for those in the South County, where more of the homeless are?

What about, for instance, the drifting homeless who may need EMERGENCY rooms, like the guy CSJ is helping, who is indeed being treated for a tumor and given weekly radiation. We financed a motel 6 room for him, and he's using his disability check for maybe the first half of April, BUT THEN? Will we be the only ones, still, he can come to?

Who's, right NOW, to help him, besides us? I can't tell. Where can he go? Precisely who is responsible or should be contacted?
I can't tell.
Can you tell me?

And: Nothing about temporarily suspended laws or regulations or changed police policy!
Nothing about supplements to disability when the monthly checks run out.
Nothing, really, much about anything, save for showers (a good thing) and hand-washing stations.

And the Food Bank, for people, remember, who lack kitchens, tables, fridges or storage.

But bathrooms? Port-a-potties? Will bathrooms ordinarily closed at night be kept open for 24 hours? People will need them.
Trouble is I know they may also sleep in them, unfortunately close together.

And the rains, this weekend? Couldn't you simply have said people will be left alone wherever they can find shelter, but to try to sleep separately wherever they can, NOT gathered together?
What about those already ill? Anywhere special to avoid the weather?
Why not distribute tents?

Where are those millions supposedly pouring into the county from the state and the Feds? I don't see them in what you've sent.
We need changed policies they actually recognize the realities of day-to-day homeless life.

What about access to washing-machines to clean clothes?
What about transportation via uber or lyft to those who need it?

What about...
My god! Who put this together? Who failed at the task? Who, there, does not understand homeless life?

Did anyone talk to the homeless themselves?
Hell, I've done this work for more than 30 years! So have many advocates I know. I do not know of a single person actually invited to make suggestions, tho, yes, some of us, unasked, have had to force them on you.

Absurd. But of course par for the county's course.

Here are some possibilities (re county aid to the homeless) that may have been ignored:

Has anyone contacted Geoff Green at the SBCC Foundation to see if anything is available at SBCC, whose campus, I assume, has been emptied? They have plenty of parking, a gym, a stadium and capacity/kitchen for preparing meals.

Also: Roger Himovitz has a camp-ground -- cabins and tents -- and you've met him, I think, up at Gaviota. I've mentioned to him the possibility of the county using the facilities. He didn't say NO, seemed at least somewhat interested.

(Increasing evidence outdoor beds and tents are superior to indoor housing: fresh and circulating air, as opposed to inside, as Roger himself, in a recent email, has pointed out).

It is of course unused now. Kitchen, too, and dining-hall.
I'll include Geoff and Roger in this email, in case you want to reach them.

Of course they may already have been reached/asked.
Geoff on his own of course can't decide. Roger can, I believe, decide on his own.

And what abt RV dwellers? Nothing I can see here, about relaxed rules allowing them to use their vehicles to access or park near shelters, services, stores, providers, etc. AGAIN: why not let them for this period park in the streets as cars do? There is certainly no problem re traffic, parking or overcrowded spaces!

Where's the beef? This is it? You know as well as I do what might have been provided by now and simply is not. Inexcusable, really.

Maybe death-producing.
§McHenry and Marin Interviews Posted
by (posted by) Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Saturday Apr 4th, 2020 5:43 PM
The interviews are now archived at, also the site for ongoing Free Radio Santa Cruz Bathrobespierre's Broadsides shows which I'll likely continue to do to provide updates from those on or close to the street,.
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