Let me introduce myself. I am a human being. Just like you, I have to eat, sleep, drink water, breathe and use the rest room, take a shower and get health care once in awhile. I might have a job, a dog, and / or a partner and kids. I also make mistakes from time to time, feel pain and hurt, sadness, depressed, grief, anger, fear, happiness, love and hope.
I may also be a senior and half of all seniors in the USA and more than half of all seniors in California cannot afford housing, mostly women because we make less money, live longer and get less SS benefits.
Middle class all of my life, i worked hard, usually 4-6 jobs at a time and put myself through college. And most likely, I will die younger than normal from all of the stress of not having a decent home. I am one of the lucky ones. Last year I was sleeping in my car before, during and after having breast cancer surgery and now am living in a tiny camper, not on the street. And I am living in a dysfunctional mobile home park, two hours from a real city, in the desert where it gets to be 118 degrees in summer, and there is no phone service, WIFI is iffy, cannot use my stove or shower, and the a/c sometimes works. I am living here because otherwise I’d have to sleep in my car and my dog and I do not want to do that. We should not HAVE to do that.
What would you do to survive if none of the churches, nonprofits, government agencies who are supposed to help you do not, curl up and die because not only do you fear being arrested for sitting, lying down or sleeping EVERY DAY AND EVERY NIGHT but you fear being ASSAULTED OR KILLED and much of your belongings are taken away from you. On top of the trauma of LOSING YOUR HOME, you are being traumatized over and over and over again by your fellow human beings in the name of so-called public safety and health.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS AND YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY.
The impossibility of managing a chronic disease while homeless
photo by Occupy_Homeless
There are more than 400 women over the age of 50 in the Monterey Bay area, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and hundreds more homeless people in Salinas, Marina, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Carmel, and Monterey, the cities that comprise the MB Peninsula. And that does not include Gilroy and other cities in San Benito county nor San Jose, aka Silicon Valley.
Itaca, New York, with about 30,000 people, about the same population as Monterey, has 40 emergency shelters while Monterey has maybe four. I am NOT a big fan of homeless shelters, they are often crowded, dirty, filled with ALL sorts of bugs, diseases and people lumped together in one big dormitory room on cots on the floor, and people have to wait in long lines every night and get thrown out in the morning. And people need real homes aka SHELTER NOW. Not in six months, not next year or in ten years.
What is wrong with this picture. Imagine, you worked hard all of your life and now because you are SUDDENLY NOUVEAU POOR, no family to take care of you, friends dying, and dysfunctional and overwhelmed agencies not taking care of you, you are struggling to survive in America.
Did you know that the military TORTURES people by depriving them of sleep. Can you imagine trying to sleep on the street, in your car, in a tent, or RV, worrying that you might be arrested and / or have your possessions taken away from you. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY GET A NIGHT’S SLEEP, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.
The FEDERAL government has said that it is unconstitutional to ban people from sleeping but many cities, if not most cities, have bans for sleeping or camping, and 31 cities ban people from feeding other people in public parks.
A 97 year old woman was recently evicted in San Francisco and died on the street. MANY thousands of older women ARE sleeping in cars, campers, cheap motels and on the streets all over the USA. Women like Smokie shown below.
Good Samaritan Elvis Summers first built a tiny home for his neighbor Smokie, above, who was sleeping in the dirt. Then he built 37 other tiny homes that were recently confiscated by the city of LA.
“…The single most powerful intervention is to help a homeless person find a home.
“The way you provide good health for homeless people is to provide them housing,” Jain said.
…Many of the health risks of homelessness go away with housing, and chronic conditions become easier to treat. So do alcohol and drug abuse.
GOLDEN GIRLS do exist. And some folks have been creating tiny homeless villages, and other creative souls have built tiny homes in LA, that were confiscated and may be returned and may be put on lots in the city, the Mayor currently seems to be waffling. The point is these are HUMAN BEINGS not trash to be swept away like garbage. Not vermin, bums, bag ladies, or whatever other epithet you are taught to throw at them. Some people are mentally ill, drug addicts and alcoholics but a whole lot more are not. They may be sick and have health issues as elderly people often do. And unless someone can pay 4-8K a month for them to live in Assisted Living or some such home, they are sleeping in cars, vans, cheap motels or on the streets.
“homeless people who are engaged in the simple acts of eating and sleeping in the only spaces available to them – parks, public squares, or vacant lands – are subject to criminal sanction, given tickets (like illegally parked cars), and forcibly removed from city centres (also like illegally parked cars). Left to languish like garbage in a landfill on the periphery of society, they are rendered completely invisible.
“Around the world, homeless people are referred to in derogatory terms – vermin, cockroaches, pigeons – things to be exterminated. They are seen as dirty, lacking morals, and burdens on society. And people who are homeless are subject to horrific acts of violence based in hate: youth gangs are known to target and beat street homeless, and women who are homeless experience alarming rates of sexual violence, including rape. Instead of immediately responding to address the harm, as governments might be expected to do, the victims become statistics at best.
“The simple truth is that homelessness is the failure of states to implement the right to housing. And they do so with impunity.”
The truth about WHO is homeless:
1) One third are children (National Coalition for the Homeless)
2) 50 percent are women and children fleeing domestic violence (multiple studies)
3) 25 percent of homeless people ARE employed (National Coalition for the Homeless)
4) 23 percent or 345,000 are veterans
5) 25 percent suffer from mental illness
Most homeless people do NOT become drug addicts until AFTER they become homeless (as a means to self-medicate or to simply survive on the streets).
The crime is that rents have doubled or tripled; minimum wage is too low; and low income and/or affordable housing units are not enough to meet the demand.
Communities around the country have created tiny home villages for homeless people to live in. For instance, Austin, Texas, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, New York and Michigan, to name a few.
The City of Eureka, CA just approved a shipping container home village despite threats of lawsuits from business owners
There seems to be a war going on between the rich and have nots. Who do you think is winning and who do you think is losing as more and more formerly middle class Americans lose their homes.
“A tiny roof over one’s head is better than none.”
“There, architecture critic Mimi Zeiger writes, “in the face of an unabating housing crisis, tiny houses could be part of a system that supports rather than criminalizes those who fall in homelessness.” She points to tiny house villages for the homeless that have operated well in other cities for years. She mentions Dignity Village in Portland and Square One Village in Eugene, Oregon. There are nine more in other cities and still more on the drawing board. These villages are mostly set up on public land and provided with public toilets and showers. They typically cost $2,500 each. And they get the little houses off the sidewalks.”