Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dr. Joshua Bamberger On Homelessness: "Autonomy is Critical for Health"

The major points from last night's talk by Dr. Joshua Bamberger, keynote for the Festival of Belonging:

1. We need massive Federal investment in low income housing. It hasn't been done right since the 1970s. Until then, we can only wait and deal with the 10% of the problem as we can.

2. Autonomy is critical for health. Enforcement actions are unhealthy for humans without homes.

3.  The main cause of the homeless crisis is the economic gap between rich and poor.

4.  Health concern about encampments is unfounded. They are a concern for those who live in camps but they are no danger for those who are housed. (Needles, Hep C, Typhoid? He debunked them all.)

5. Shelters are a very partial answer, similar to hospital emergency rooms.

6. There's no evidence that mandatory treatment improves outcomes for people with addiction or mental health problems.

7.  There’s an emergency in seniors who have had jobs and homes all their lives, who are now becoming homeless.

8. We need to invest in programs that keep homeless people alive and safe until we can get the Federal investment to build the houses we need.

Dr. Bamberger was recently appointed as Associate Director of UCSF's $30 million Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.  As a primary care physician and Master of Public Health, Dr. Bamberger has been working with San Francisco's homeless population at the Downtown Clinic and SF Health Department for nearly 30 years.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Democratic Candidates On Homelessness and Housing

by Adrienne Lauby
This was the week that Julian Castro made local headlines by visiting an Oakland homeless camp.  I knew that Warren and Sanders have proposed major Federal funding increases for homelessness and housing, but Castro's visit got me wondering how important homelessness was as an issue for all the Democratic candidates.  

Below I talk about 12 of the 19 current candidates.

The two who surprised me the most was Marianne Willliamson for the depth and number of her policy plans and Joe Sestek, a former Navy Admiral for his progressive solutions.  Both, coincidentally (& like Bernie Sanders), have very good disability policies.

Cory Booker 

Booker signed on to letter urging the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Senate Appropriations Subcommittee leadership to support funding for the McKinney- Vento Homelessness Assistance program and $2.1 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers.

Peter Buttigieg  
He proposes to
launch a public trust that would purchase abandoned properties and provide them to eligible residents in pilot cities. Housing and homelessness is tackled by Buttigieg in several of his larger plans.  Past actions:  What Pete Buttigieg Has and Hasn’t Done About Homelessness in South Bend

Julian Castro 
'Housing is a human right'
: Castro visited a homeless encampment in Oakland in September. 
His housing plan includes trying to build 3 million affordable-housing units and putting in place "a refundable renter's tax credit.. . In my administration, we will end homelessness by 2028.”

Tulsi Gabbard
Has a statement on homelessness on her website. I love that she talks about the cost of the military. "Instead of wasting billions of dollars on regime-change wars, we can invest some of that Peace Dividend to end homelessness across America."  Past Actions:  Sidewalk bill targets homeless people. 

Kamala Harris 
Almost nothing on her website about homelessness or housing.  She issued a statement on Trump's latest attack on homeless Californian's. “The White House’s suggestion that it will enlist the help of law enforcement to address homelessness in the state is counterproductive and ignores the fact that long-term solutions are required to successfully reduce homelessness."  

Amy Klobuchar
Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long term housing, and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training.

Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke visited an L.A. homeless camp in September of this year where he said he wants to
invest $400 billion in housing and proposes the rich live next door to the poor..  There’s nothing on his website about homelessness or housing. 

Bernie Sanders 

Sanders visited housing and homeless service programs in Los Angeles in early August.  His website says he will invest $1.48 trillion over 10 years in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build, rehabilitate, and preserve the 7.4 million quality, affordable and accessible housing units necessary to eliminate the affordable housing gap, which will remain affordable in perpetuity.  There's more. 

Joe Sestak
Sestak says
subsidized housing needs expanding, with long wait-lists for government-backed housing across the country. Says better funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and its anti-homelessness programs will boost the entire economy and create more jobs.  Has excellent plans related to disability. 

Elizabeth Warren 
This announcement
doesn't quote Warren talking about homelessness but she's paying attention to organizations that do talk about it. "Bicameral Legislation Would Produce More Than 3 Million New Housing Units, Reduce Rents by 10%, and Create 1.5 Million New Jobs with No Deficit Impact"

Her website says my bill makes historic federal investments to increase housing supply. It invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab units that will be affordable to lower-income families.

Marianne Williamson
Part of
Williamson’s economic plan is to pay all American citizens ages 18 to 65 (or until they are eligible for their Social Security payment) $1,000 per month, no questions asked.  She also has excellent plans related to disability.

Andrew Yang 
Yang would implement the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year, for every American adult over the age of 18.

[Graphic: From Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).  It is a cartoon of President Trump running a piece of heavy equipment with bulldozer wheels, a wrecking ball and a excavator which is holding the remains of a house. There's a golf club bag in the back.  The text reads, "Trump's Wall: At What Cost?  Trump shuts down government for his $5 billion wall, while HUD plans for reductions of 105,000 public housing units."]

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

By Adrienne Lauby
Sept. 11, 2019
Article 25:  Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

There are five major ways to fulfill the demands of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights quickly.

1. Sanctioned Encampments (tents)
2. Safe Parking (cars & R.V./Trailers)
3. Tiny Home Villages (bedrooms with communal sanitation and cooking areas)
4. Leave 'em alone - decriminalization  (
5. Major infusion of money from the Federal government.   The Feds cut funds to build low income housing during Ronald Reagan's Presidency by 50% and has never restored the budget, much less caught up with the missing years of housing production.

Building in elements of self-management, self-empowerment and community in homeless camps, villages and safe parking is crucial to their success.  

It's impossible to talk for long about homelessness without talking about low income housing and poverty.  Both of these are large topics, of course, but consider having some framing about them.  For instance, you can say, "Homelessness is about poverty.  You don't find rich people on the streets.  Donald Trump has had bankruptcies, divorces and other crisis events but, like most rich people, he has back up housing and resources that pick him up before he falls too far."

Don't be misled by the term "affordable housing"  This is basically workforce housing.  Unless it says specifically low-low-housing or no-income housing, it will not be affordable for most homeless people who, at best, are on a fixed income of approx. $1,000 a month.

Don't use the term "homeless"  Use homeless people, homeless folks, or homeless individuals.   Homeless people are individuals.  They are not their condition.

What happens to homeless people's property when they are arrested for being in the "wrong" place, or told to suddenly move on, taking only what they can carry?  This has become a growing legal issue since the U.S. is strong about the right of people to own property.

Officially, 42% of homeless people have a physical or mental disability.  The actual number is much higher.  We could talk about "disabled people living on the street" instead of "homeless people".

There are Tiny Home Villages that cost $200,000 a home and up.  While these are cheaper than market-rate housing, they are a limited solution.


1.  Homeless Talk
Homeless Action! and Santa Rosa Together talked to 500 Santa Rosa people in small groups to find out what they are thinking about homelessness.  Qualitative Research Report, Cecile Querubin lead author.  
This same site has an extensive local homeless resource guide.

2.  Homeless Census, Official numbers and statistics from the county's yearly survey.  (scroll down slightly for the pdf of each year's report)

3.  Portrait of Sonoma County
Another official report, this one produced by the Health Department in 2014.  Delicious statistics and comparisons about the difference in resources in the poorer communities vs the well off communities, and the consequences of these disparities.  Delicious and depressing.

4.  Decriminalization
Non-Solution Solutions to End Homelessness
This entire website is full of information.  It's located in S.F. but has close connections with grassroots homeless activist groups, especially on the west coast.

5. My favorite doctoral student.
Chris Herring
Great academic research on encampments

6.  Tipping Point Community
Interesting new group out of the bay area

1.  Ten Myths about Homelessness Debunked
9-1-19. Medium
One of the best articles I've seen on this topic.  Easy to read and Cory Clark did a great job pulling out the myths.

2.  10 Tiny House Villages for the Homeless Across the U.S.:  Case studies for a trending idea
A good overview.  There are more villages than this, (Seattle has ten all by itself) but this gives a good sense of the diversity in size, management and funding.

3.  Modesto tent city attracting interest from other cities dealing with homelessness
California Official City Tent City

4. Column:  He Died Sunday on a West L.A. Sidewalk.  He was Homeless. He is Part of an Epidemic
Good thinking about how homelessness should be considered a health epidemic.  L.A. on track for 1,000 deaths of homeless people in this year alone.

6.  Road Home Redux : They're fire-resistant and politically connected, but are 'wildfire cottages' the solution to the region's—heck, the state's—housing crisis?
Includes a lot of quotes from the author of this article.

7.  San Jose Tiny Home Village

8.  101 Notes on the LA Tenants Union
Commune Magazine
Brilliant re-framing of the housing/homelessness problem

9.   Rise of Senior homelessness.  It's true in Sonoma County too.  More and more Californians are old, sick and on the streets. Here’s how we can fight senior homelessness.


1.  Santa Rosa
City Ordinances
Kevin Polk, who is a guru for Tiny House building, says Santa Rosa now has the best ordinances In the state for helping displaced people get back on their feet using smaller temporary housing.

Fed Court Injunction for Santa Rosa Homeless Relief
    a.Order for Preliminary Injunction (scroll past the calendar)
    b.  Interview with Adrienne Lauby and Victoria Yanez

Santa Rosa gives final approval to 54-unit apartment complex for homeless and low-income residents

Gold Coin Motel set to be Homeless Housing

2.  Rohnert Park
Rohnert Park to spend up to $450,000 more on new homeless initiatives

3.  Chico
A plan to address homelessness in Chico | Guest commentary
By a City Council member

4.  San Francisco
S.F. Looking to follow Seattle's Lead
S.F. Chronicle

5.  L.A.
Los Angeles restores limits on homeless living in vehicles

6.  State of California

Darrell Steinberg's New Initiative
a.  Cities Must Provide Shelter for Homeless People
b.  Criticism:
California must not repeat old mistakes as it seeks new ways to end homelessness

Last year the State of California gave $500 million to cities and counties for emergency homeless efforts (HEAP).  (My group got its first big grant of $450 thousand to build a tiny home village and R.V. park.).  Oakland spent all their share on tiny home villages and safe parking.  Finding out what happened with all that money would be a research project in itself.  Next year the state is giving less.  This year it will be $650 million (HHAPP) but it's more restricted and less money for Sonoma County by about $3 million bucks.

Local guy, beautiful stuff.  May get an official permit for housing structures next year.

SAVS Tiny Home Villages
Local.   I'm part of this group.  We are setting up a Tiny Home Village and an R.V. Parking Lot.  Stay tuned.

The Low Income Housing Institute builds typical affordable housing but it also has built and manages over ten tiny home villages.