We went out on outreach this afternoon to check in with folks. Last night two residents of encampments in the Mission were shot to death. There was still blood on the sidewalk this afternoon. Folks living in the encampment were really shaken up about this.
I was out at the encampments today checking in with folks. Things down on Cesar Chavez looked pretty much the same as last week, but people reported SFPD came today and told them they are doing sweeps early tomorrow morning. The cops were threatening to arrest anyone who was still there in the morning, but they are threatened on a regular basis and never really know when sweeps will actually happen. There were no longer ‘notices to vacate’ posted. The thing that was out of the norm was that people reported Caltrain had engineers with them today scoping things out so they may be putting fences up.
I don’t normally post pictures of people I encounter on the street, but I think people need to see this to understand what I’m talking about.
This man is a senior… has a physical disability… and is homeless. What he is doing here… sleeping next to his wheelchair… is against the law. Since he is sleeping he is at risk of getting a $100 citation from police and even at risk of going to jail. These are called “quality of life” citations because his existence as a poor person is infringing on the “quality of life” of those around him who aren’t poor.
Keep in mind there is only 1 shelter bed for every 6 people experiencing homelessness.
It’s shameful that this takes place in a City with such obscene wealth…. in a city named after St. Francis. This isn’t limited to San Francisco though… it’s happening across our nation. It’s shameful that this man is hated in our community because he is homeless. It’s shameful this man is marginalized from our churches because he is homeless. Homelessness is NOT a choice!
The ‘Homeless Bill of Rights Sleep-In Action’ was a beautiful, powerful and inspiring experience… and yet at the same time heartrending. Bear with me (if you want)… I write to process my thoughts and I decided to share this one. Continue reading →
I heard a Franciscan speak about his experience with social ministries and social justice and he ‘spoke my language’ so I asked if he could find time to chat with me… so I could pick his brain a bit because he clearly has a history of organizing within the Church. When he heard about my experience in social work, social justice, community organizing, and advocacy on homelessness, he said he wanted to pick my brain about a program for his parish.
This is what I wrote him after our afternoon together… somewhat of a stream of consciousness and piecing together a puzzle. I was reflecting back what I was hearing from him and things that came up in our discussion. I was presenting questions and ideas for him to consider, but it’s relevant to any parish community.
I was waiting at the bus stop on my way to go to Mass and a police car pulled up… moving fast enough to where I felt the need to jump back from the curb as a precaution. What was the hurry? Well… there was a man who is a senior citizen sitting in his wheelchair next to me at the bus stop. You may be wondering what the crisis was. He wasn’t intoxicated or even causing a scene… he was quietly sitting next to me… in fact we were chatting and he was quite friendly.
The man was guilty of being homeless and sitting in his wheelchair at a bus stop on a public sidewalk. Continue reading →