After many years of kicking around this issue, the current city council may decide the fate of hundreds, while the few bad apples will never be affected, honest working class people will be affected, and not for the better. The problems being brought up by those demanding an ordinance will not disappear, because the problems were never caused by car dwellers, but by other categories of people.
The issue at hand is the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance. This issue has not been resolved although it has come up many times in the past in city counsel meetings. Interest groups, faith based churches, and a working group composed of concerned clergy, city staff and CCT members had over 10 months to work on a plan, yet when it reached the policy and services committee it quickly fizzed out.
The two sides of this issue are:
1. Human rights Advocates who do not want more government interference in our lives and more power given to the police in this society where freedom reigns.
2. People of means who do not want their peace and well being infringed upon by those of lesser means. The demeanor of this group seems to be: “Not in my neighborhood” they pay high taxes to live in Palo Alto and they don’t want to even see one homeless person or car dweller loitering around and feel that this permissive agenda by Palo Alto is just not acceptable.
The city wants to solve the problem by pushing the car dwellers onto the Service Providers. Shelter Network is not equipped to handle yet another 55 to 100 who have needs far different than street people who have lost all their self esteem, and therefore can be treated in any fashion the service provider deems necessary. Car dwellers are accustomed to making their own decisions, they are more independent than street people, some of them hold down a low wage job.
The service provider has a set of standards that most car dwellers do not fit into, and they will not amend these set of standards to qualify for their services.
Service providers exist to get funding and getting results is not imperative to them so they do the least possible because obtaining funding is their primary goal, not finding shelter for the homeless, regardless of their claims. Their results are largely undocumented because failure to achieve is not a good thing to bring about.
Failure of the city government to grasp a clean understanding of the issue is apparent, so the issue remains an issue because nobody has actually determined the root cause of car dwelling and suggested that the root cause be treated instead the symptoms are being experimented with, leading to quick fix solutions.
It has become evident to us that Palo Alto City Council will not spend one dime on “homeless tramps” while supporting Downtown Streets team who are running a economic slavery scheme paying their recruits less than minimum wage and saving the city millions, so the city is happy to get “free labor”.
The Caste System being created by the current attitudes of “Palo Alto affluent” will enable the affluent to keep up their lifestyle at the expense of the impoverished, while supporting a Feudal type concept.
The Barons kept the peasants in line while the Kings lived a life of plenty. It is not imaginary because that is what we are headed for if this ordinance is passed in Palo alto. It is time we take heed to the philosophy of Martin Luther King “Free at last, Free at last, Free at last” instead of “oppress me more, oppress me more, oppress me more”.
Does Palo Alto have an obligation to those of no financial means? No city has an obligation to any certain group of people, whether wealthy or not, instead the city may want to be a role model to other municipalities simply because it’s the right thing to do. When there are billionaire developers wanting special favors from local politicians, the pressures to abide by the wants of the affluent may carry more clout than some group of human rights advocates.
We, however hold onto a glimmer of hope that those decision makers on the city council will see the opportunity to do something positive which will appease both sides and create a real solution. Stanford university social services professor should be consulted, and this resource may come up with a real solution.
Giving the police to power to decide the fate of a category of people is surely NOT THE ANSWER. Poverty shall not be a crime in the United States of America.