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Alicia Kuhl: Homeless Encampment Ordinance is a Ban on Homeless People's Right to Exist
by Santa Cruz News
Saturday Feb 20th, 2021 1:02 PM
Alicia Kuhl, the President of The Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless Union, has written to the Santa Cruz City Council in opposition to the proposed homeless encampment ordinance to be heard by council at its meeting on Tuesday, February 23. "Ordinances such as the ones being proposed on Tuesday do nothing but hurt our already most vulnerable community members and would criminalize them with citations when they have nowhere to go, nowhere to rest or be warm.," Kuhl stated. Read Alicia Kuhl's full letter below.
santa-cruz-chapter-california-homeless-union.jpg
Statement from Alicia Kuhl, the President of The Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless Union:


The Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless union opposes any ordinance that would undermine and attempt to circumvent the spirit, or the letter of Martin v Boise.

Santa Cruz both City & County are lacking in available indoor shelter & housing opportunities. Ordinances such as the ones being proposed on Tuesday do nothing but hurt our already most vulnerable community members and would criminalize them with citations when they have nowhere to go, nowhere to rest or be warm. Drastically limiting the time and place they can seek shelter is extremely concerning. Even without rain we can be exposed to extreme weather and safety conditions when living outdoors. This is especially dangerous to our elderly and disabled unhoused community to limit their shelter and safety in that way. You have stated that you don't have the money or resources to assist the homeless yet you have dwindled away millions of dollars in staffing, continued to hire highly paid homeless assistants like Megan Bunch and Brooke Newman last year, yet the homeless got the trickle down effect and received little to no assistance from the City or County.

Just a few months ago you decided to increase the police budget at a time when Police Chief Andy Mills admitted that 60% of the calls his department responds to are for crisis intervention, and substance abuse, and homeless issues. Issues that the police aren't adequately trained or have any services to offer to help so they just end up harassing and harming people leaving them more upset than they were before they got on scene, yet instead of investing in programs that would help people, you opted to give the police more funding to waste. There has still been no real accounting as to where all the funding for the homeless has actually been spent on the larger scale either. We have been requesting an audit of those funds for over a year now. It doesn't make sense, and is morally and unconstitutionally wrong for you to pass this ordinance that you are considering on Tuesday.

We are requesting that you Cease and Desist from attempting to pass any ordinance that would circumvent the spirit or the letter of Martin v. Boise and that you would refuse to pass, and vote against any ordinance that could appear to be, or turn into "a camping ban" or a ban on homeless people's right to exist and ability to survive in the general public. I fear that what you are doing constitutes negligence or worse, and will end up costing lives.

*Let me remind you that this comes at a time when last year we had the most homeless deaths on the streets of Santa Cruz than we have had in a LONG TIME a 33% increase, and the highest number recorded in the county over the last 22 years. (Info from the Homeless Action Partnership HAP)

We can, and should be doing better, these hateful policies and ordinances that would make our most vulnerable community members lives harder need not pass, and should be punished for even being considered (Consider firing of the Police Chief, Mayor, City Manager and City Attorney) as we deserve better from our elected officials. We should be taking from that police budget and hiring trained professionals to deal with crisis intervention, we should be utilizing a real warming center, and we should be building 100% affordable units on city owned property. Meanwhile we still have a lot of empty hotel rooms.

ANOTHER NOTE: The proposed ordinances do not comply with the CDC guidelines regarding homeless encampments during a pandemic. I have previously provided you with a copy of these guidelines, and you have stated on numerous occasions that you are aware of the CDC guidelines regarding homeless encampments during a pandemic, it is more than negligent to keep disregarding the CDC guidelines and it puts our entire community at risk of increased Covid-19 exposure.

No one from the City or County has reached out to the homeless community or Homeless Union to discuss these matters and we would appreciate if the Police Chief would refrain from saying things about the homeless community that aren't true, both in media responses and his twitter account. We are available should you wish to discuss these matters.

Alicia Kuhl
President of The Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Homeless Union
National Union of the Homeless -Executive Board Member
Santa Cruz Poor People's Campaign Co-Chair
Emergency Interim Housing Supervisor


Kuhl has also issued the following action alert:


URGENT NEED: PLEASE START CALLING AND WRITING AGAINST THE PROPOSED HOMELESS ORDINANCES.

PLEASE CONTACT THE PEOPLE BELOW AND TELL THEM HOW YOU FEEL ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!

Mayor Donna Meyers
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020 City Hall
Email: dmeyers [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2022

Vice Mayor Sonja Brunner
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020 City Hall
Email: sbrunner [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Term Expires: December 2024

Sandy Brown
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5028 City Hall
Email: sbrown [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2024

Justin Cummings
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020 City Hall
Email: jcummings [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2022

Renee Golder
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020 City Hall
Email: rgolder [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2022

Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5020 City Hall
Email: skalantari-johnson [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2024

Martine Watkins
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 420-5024 City Hall
Email: mwatkins [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Current Term Expires: December 2024


More information:

Santa Cruz County Homeless Advocates/Santa Cruz California Homeless Union
https://www.facebook.com/groups/SantaCruzCountyHomelessAdvocates
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