Monday, August 14, 2017

Homeless Hill is Cleared

Hi Everyone,

Sometime between 8 am and 11:30 am this morning, the police and Catholic Charities staff threatened between 14-22 residents of Homeless Hill with arrest if they did not leave their homes.  By noon, when members of Homeless Action! arrived, this micro-village was destroyed.

We were told that there were no arrests.  One man who didn't make it entirely easy, but most complied with police instructions.  Everyone went either to the Sam Jones Shelter or were given motel vouchers*. We will check with people who were there to confirm this.  Between 9 and 11 Hill residents had already moved to Sam Jones over the last couple of weeks.  There were 42 residents on the Hill originally. Some people left before the police came and scattered.

We saw a very sad scene with most of the tents collapsed and various household items strewn about. The camp looked as though it had been abandoned in the face of a natural disaster.  We did not see the most personal items among the wreckage, so we're hoping that people had prepared themselves with a back pack or a few bags.  There was an altar of flowers, a cross and a grieving plaque near the top of the hill.

Attached are photos by Gregory Fearon from this morning.  I've labeled them "before" and "after" so you have some sense of what was destroyed.  For more:

Many use-able tents, bedding, sleeping pads, clothing and other household items remain.  Our experience with other "clean ups" is that everything will be dumped into large trucks and taken to the landfill.   The Homeless Action! team had hoped to help people move out carefully, folding and storing some of the use-able items.  Instead, we were threatened with arrest for trespassing and escorted off by uniformed cops.

Our ally, Michael Anthony, was there from 7-8 am but we all missed the moment in terms of being able to witness the destruction in process.

Thanks to you all for being willing to step up and defend some of the most vulnerable humans among us.  I'm very sad.  Perhaps it seems over-blown to name this a micro-village; perhaps the trash seems to justify this trauma.  But, I think that this place was a home for 42 people, who lived together and tried to make each other more secure.  I think of the trauma and emotional suffering of those who have lost so much of what they built and I honor them.

In June of 2016, California cities led the nation in enacting and enforcing anti-homeless laws. (see attached chart) Santa Rosa with its liberal image has the same number of anti-homeless laws as conservative cities like City of Orange in Orange County, Ventura and Redondo Beach.

(*The motel vouchers are, at most, for two weeks.  Where will these people go then?)

Homeless Action!
795-2890 my home landline, no texts please
Before- Homeless Hill Destruction.jpg

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