TWELVE CHARGED FOR DEFYING CALIFORNIA CITY'S BAN ON FEEDING HOMELESS - Welcome to Soul 2 Soul Mates Blog

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1/16/2018

TWELVE CHARGED FOR DEFYING CALIFORNIA CITY'S BAN ON FEEDING HOMELESS

TWELVE CHARGED FOR DEFYING CALIFORNIA CITY'S BAN ON FEEDING HOMELESS
A California city has brought charges against 12 people who defied a ban on feeding homeless people at a neighborhood
park, as officials try to rein in a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20 people and prompted mass vaccinations and the bleaching of streets.
Officials in El Cajon, east of San Diego, argue that the ordinance aims to protect the public from hepatitis A, which has mostly affected those who are homeless or use drugs, by preventing the person-to-person transmission of pathogens. But activists have decried it as a draconian measure to criminalize homeless residents.
Jen Loving, a Bay Area advocate who has followed the situation, said it reflected a broader breakdown in trust, with locals losing confidence that their elected representatives have effective solutions for what, in other contexts, might be recognized as a humanitarian disaster.
“From afar, it feels like a community struggling with crisis and wanting consensus in a comprehensive solution to this problem,” said Loving. “This points to a much bigger issue all around the country. All communities are starved for long-term solutions for increasing homelessness.”
Homelessness in the US has grown by about 1% since 2016, the first increase since the great recession, and it is driven by high rents on the east and west coasts. In San Diego County the numbers rose 5%.
In El Cajon on Sunday, a volunteer organization named Break the Ban manned tables offering breakfast bars, oranges and bananas, hygiene supplies and socks at a local park. Within an hour, the police arrived threatening to arrest those who defied the ban. Volunteers shouted angrily at them, and they began issuing misdemeanor citations.
Scott Dreher, an attorney to the organizers who was present at the event, described the ordinance a restriction on his free-speech rights. “It prevents me from exercising my right to share food with those people in need, which is an expression of speech by action,” he said. “There are other, non-first-amendment-restrictive, ways to accomplish the city’s stated goal of preventing the spread of hep A, namely, by cleaning up the parks and providing and encouraging use of public restrooms and hand-washing.”


California city confiscates toilets from homeless residents – forcing them to use buckets
Almost 600 people in the county have been infected with the disease, which is spread via fecal contamination, a symptom of the fact that homeless people have few places to use the bathroom and then wash their hands.

As well as spraying bleach and offering vaccinations, officials in San Diego have installed washing stations and erected huge tents to give people some protection from the elements. The city is also making longer-term plans: on Thursday, San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, unveiled a homelessness plan that includes a tax hike, central intake hub and more shelter beds.
A homeless man at the feeding event, Berl Crist, said El Cajon, by contrast, “would rather take a hands-off inactive approach, by banning food sharing and making panhandling illegal.”
“It’s not a feeding ban,” said El Cajon spokesperson Monica Zech. “We want to protect the homeless by feeding them in a clean and safe environment. A park isn’t a clean environment.”


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