$250,000 To buy new shopping cart homes and other services for the homeless

Shopping cart home.jpgOn Monday, Palo Alto city Council will decide whether to spend $250,000 to house 20 of the cities estimated 157 homeless. But how will caseworkers pick [and chose] which 20 get new homes?

It won’t be based on good [up standing] behavior. In fact it’s just the opposite.

A report by [homeless “de facto” expert and] City Manager Jim Keene to council says those who will get priority in the selection process are those who had had the most run-ins with the law and are at risk of being repeat offenders.

In addition to the $250,000 from the city Santa Clara County will provide $100,000 from a state grant under the [pension] prison [reform] realignment bill, which sends state prisoners to county jails to relieve [themselves plus] overcrowding.

And state money is earmarked for helping those who have been arrested, have a high chance of being arrested again, who “significantly impact county, state, or local resources,” and who are “homeless or at risk of being or becoming homeless.”

‘Chronically homeless’

According to a report, the “chronically [acute] homeless” individuals can use the assistance to get themselves into a [new cart] home and, with the help of a [mental basket without wheels] caseworker, will apply for government programs, get help for substance abuse and receive medical care.

“These will be prioritized for individuals who face significant barriers to achieving economic self sufficiency,” the report states.

The program was recommended by a city task force [be with you] comprised of [toothless] homeless advocates [without a bite who will gum you to death], which formed in August shortly after the [technically advanced city] council voted to ban car camping and camping at Cubberley Community Center [along with taking away their ability to shower themselves.]

The task force considered other options such as creating a “homeless outreach [‘and put the touch on someone’ team,” which has already been successfully implemented in the San Mateo County cities of San Mateo, [our] East Palo Alto [brothers from the hood] and Redwood City, and bears some resemblance to the proposed Palo Alto program.

Helping biggest troublemakers

Mila Zelkah, strategic relations fellow for InVision Shelter Network, which manages the apartments at Palo Alto’s Opportunity Center, told the post in August that the outreach team program focuses on helping the people who cause of the most problems and are the source of repeat calls to police.

During its first year, the program helped 40% of the people on the police [hit] list of troublemakers to either get a job, find housing, enroll in a substance abuse program or a mental health program.

In it’s second year and the years after that, the program successfully helped about 25% of it’s homeless clients Zelkha said, adding that San Mateo County recently set aside more money to bring the program to Pacifica and South San Francisco.

When council members on the Policy and Services Committee voted to recommend dedicating $250,000 to help the homeless, they asked the homelessness task force to decide how the money could be best spent.

But the [helpless] task force was only given about a month to organize and come up with the plan that’s going to the full [circle marry-go-round] council on Monday.

Zilkha said that the force [be with you] had planned ask for more [spatial] time at a Sept. 26 meeting with City Manager James Keene, but wasn’t able to after he [dodged and] canceled the meeting.

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Vehicle Habitation plan, flawed from the beginning?

Cracked eggAfter 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.

Casting democracy to the wind on the homeless in Palo Alto

democracydeadDemocracy was cast to the wind this evening leaving its citizens voices dead on arrival.  The Policy and Service Committee clearly became a Politburo rather then a democratically elected body in its decision to not listen to the citizens it serves.  The last time I looked the citizens of Palo Alto were clearly in charge.  Not anymore!

Despite an overwhelming community disapproval displayed during oral communications, the council took upon itself and decided to move forward with the proposed ban making it a misdemeanor for those found inhabiting or living in their vehicle a six month jail sentence if found guilty as noted by former Santa Clara County Public Defender Aram James.

Just the first round

Attorney Aram James
Attorney Aram James

For many in attendance it was what appeared to be a crushing defeat for homeless rights.  Not so this is just the first round says Aram James a long time Palo Alto resident and attorney. He relates;

“Folks don’t hold your heads down! Tonight was just the 1st round, the opening arguments.  The politicians just played their best hand in full public view like discovery in a criminal trial we (the public) now know their best arguments–very weak at best.

Nearly thirty members of the public spoke all but two oppose this ugly draconian ordinance. Now’s the time to redouble our efforts–the full jury has not yet spoken!! Now we organize remember our weapons, jury nullification, and the defense of necessity, discriminatory enforcement and defenses to this ordinance only limited by our imagination!!!

No jury of 12 citizens will ever convict for violation of this immoral proposed ordinance!! The community united will never be defeated by self-serving politicians. It’s time to fight back elect members of the un-housed community–including vehicle dweller–to our city council”.

One thing is for sure the homeless advocates were out in force from PhD’s, lawyers, physiologists to the homeless vehicle dwellers just as predicted in the Daily Post. They really put on a “show”.

Mr. Price in his editorial seamed to vilify the homeless but if it were his newspaper racks on the line I’m sure he would be whistling a different tune. After all it’s the First Amendment he’s so proud about first and not the horrible state of homelessness on a national level.

Hopefully in round two community voices will rise to the occasion once again when full council is set to bless the ordinance so as to defeat this draconian ordinance and attack on the homeless once and for all.

Suggested legal defense strategies:

Tobe v. City of Santa Ana (1995)

In re Eichorn (1998) 69 Cal. App. 4th 382 [81 Cal. Rptr. 2d 535]

Implementation of the necessity defense in case of criminalization of homelessness

Necessary Defense from ending the threat of nuclear war

Why a fundamental understanding of jury nullification is so critical to taking back our criminal justice system

Gideon v. Wainwright – 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

Past historic Palo Alto Police soft interactions with Vehicle Dweller

Palo Alto settles Taser suit for $35K