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Columbia South Carolina – A Dubious Victory


Since the last issue of STREET SHEET, and with the attention of the national media focused squarely on the issue, the city council of Columbia, SC reversed its unanimous approval of legislation that would, for all intents and purposes, have outlawed homelessness in the downtown business district of the state’s capital city. The plan required that that all homeless people be bused to a shelter on the city’s outskirts, and then not be allowed to leave that shelter to return downtown. This was to be achieved by stationing police officers outside the shelter and along the return route to arrest anyone trying to escape their illegal incarceration.

Thanks to the outrage expressed by communities from coast to coast, the huge outpouring of support for Columbia’s homeless community, threats of lawsuits, and the refusal by Columbia’s own Chief of Police to enforce their illegal mandate, the city council, once again by the same unanimous vote, reversed its position.

Now the issue is whether this reversal represents a victory for homeless and poor people or simply an attempt to divert attention.

Columbia Residents protest the Plan to evict Homeless people from downtown by showing up at a downtown store en Masse to "loiter"

Columbia Residents protest the Plan to evict Homeless people from downtown by showing up at a downtown store en masse to “loiter”

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Letter to the Editor (Proposed Recycling Center Closures)

Hi Ken:

I live in the Mission and there is an on-line site dedicated to the neighborhood. It is called Next Door Mission Dolores. Anyway there was a lot of criticism of homeless people, especially those who sell recycled bottle and cans. There was a big push to close Safeway at Market [@Church]. Quite a few residents got on-line on this issue, all negative. I was so upset that I wrote the following on that site: Continue reading

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San Francisco Doesn’t Need a New Jail

California’s prison and jail crisis continues to draw international attention as the state with the highest number of people living in cages has been found guilty of cruel and unusual punishment. The United States Supreme Court has ordered Governor Jerry Brown to reduce California’s prison population by tens of thousands by the end of 2013. Many of those effected come from our poorest communities, including people of color, communities experiencing high levels of unemployment and homelessness, and those already experiencing mental health and addiction challenges.

In response to this ruling, many of California’s prisoners are being transferred to local jurisdictions which research shows are better equipped to respond to rehabilitation needs since they are closer to inmates home communities and support networks. Rehabilitation can really only happen where support and resources exist. Continue reading

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Palo Alto’s Vehicle Habitation Ordinance

Bad Policy – But not a reflection of the whole community

As reported in an earlier issue of STREET SHEET, the Palo Alto City Council, on August 5th, approved an ordinance making it illegal to live in a vehicle. When such legislation is passed, it’s easy to paint an entire community as biased and mean-spirited. This isn’t always the case as the following E-mail exchange between two Palo Alto residents clearly illustrates.

On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 10:20 AM, Brian Good wrote: 

Back in the 70s a friend of mine lived in a low-rent rooming house in North Palo Alto because that’s what he could afford on his pay as a janitor.  I’m not sure if the house is still standing, but I saw one recently that might have been it offered for sale at $2.4 million.

For 40 years, the City Council has aggressively pursued policies to facilitate kicking low-income people out of rooming houses so that rich people can occupy multi-million dollar homes. The agents who are offering this property are college-educated, and have skills that might allow them to help make the world a better place. Instead, aided by the Palo Alto City Council, they are engaged in the trivial pursuit of providing nicer housing to rich people who already have nice housing.

We’ve all heard about the Greatest Generation, that fought the Nazis and made the USA great. I’m disgusted with my generation, the S**ttiest Generation, with its lazy cynicism and selfishness that has made this crumbling world the way it is. Continue reading

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Chief Suhr acknowledges privacy rights of SRO residents.

The question remains, will the majority of SFPD officers understand or care what those rights are? Probably not. So, whenever you see a group of cops, make sure the cameras are rolling.

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Homeless and Poor People Targeted Again

Supervisor Carmen Chu’s Hate Law banning parking of large vehicles (RV’s, Campers, etc.) sailed through the Board of Supervisors with only 4 members, John Avalos, Jane Kim, David Campos and Christina Olague, standing up for the rights of people who have lost so much already.

Read the complete story in the next issue of Street Sheet, October 1st.

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Recently raided homeless encampment threatened again

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Police and CHP Sweep Homeless Camp Near Cal Train Station

Early last week, the Coalition on Homelessness learned of the planned sweep of a homeless camp near the Cal Train station at 4th and King.

Tucked beneath an overpass on the 280 Freeway just east of the Sixth Street ramps, the residents of this community of around 40 people have lived peacefully alongside their housed neighbors for years. The camp consisted of approximately 15 tents, several mobile structures, and a few cars and other vehicles. The encampment was located near Cal Train’s northern terminus and the inbound terminus of the N-Judah line only two blocks from AT&T Park; tens of thousands of visitors and commuters have passed by or over daily without giving it much thought. That’s exactly how the folks living there wanted it. Continue reading